The United States on Friday lifted sanctions on International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, that were imposed by Trump over her investigation into whether American forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan.
The Biden administration also removed Phakiso Mochochoko, head of the ICC’s Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division, from the Specially Designated Nationals list.
In a statement, US Secretary of State Blinken said the State Department had also terminated a separate 2019 policy on visa restrictions on certain ICC personnel and added: “These decisions reflect our assessment that the measures adopted were inappropriate and ineffective.”
Blinken said Washington was taking the step even though it continued “to disagree strongly with the ICC’s actions relating to the Afghanistan and Palestinian situations” and to object to ICC “efforts to assert jurisdiction over personnel of non-States Parties such as the United States and Israel.”
“We believe, however, that our concerns about these cases would be better addressed through engagement with all stakeholders in the ICC process rather than through the imposition of sanctions,” his statement said.
Blinken said Washington was encouraged that a broad range of reforms were being considered to help the ICC “prioritize its resources and to achieve its core mission of serving as a court of last resort in punishing and deterring atrocity crimes.”
The court welcomed the US move.
In his formal announcement terminating the sanctions, Biden said that while they were neither “effective or appropriate,” the United States would “vigorously protect current and former United States personnel” from any ICC attempts to exercise jurisdiction over them.