US sanctions constitute attack against interests of victims of atrocity crimes: ICC

[TamilNet, Friday, 12 June 2020, 21:27 GMT]
US President Donald Trump imposed unprecedented sanctions and travel restrictions against the International Criminal Court (ICC) personnel involved in probing the actions of US forces in Afghanistan. The sanctions regime was announced on Thursday. The ICC reacted within a few hours expressing “profound regret at the announcement of further threats and coercive actions, including financial measures, against the Court and its officials”. For some time now, the US has been threatening the Hague-based ICC not to proceed with its investigations into war crimes allegedly committed by Israel in occupied Palestine and by the US forces and the CIA in Afghanistan.

[Video courtesy: DW News]

More than 120 countries are party to the founding treaty of the ICC. ‘Sri Lanka’ is also not a State party to the ICC. The treaty is known as the Rome Statutes.

In 2000, the then US President Bill Clinton signed the Rome Statute. However, the Clinton administration did not get the US Senate to ratify it.

Two years later, President George W. Bush unsigned the treaty in 2002.

However, the Obama administration took a more positive approach and cooperated with the Office of the ICC Prosecutor on the Darfur Case, strengthening the US-ICC relationship significantly.

Barack Obama included its cooperation with the ICC as a matter of policy in the National Security Strategy in 2010. His administration cooperated in delivering suspects whom the ICC had issued an arrest warrant for, to the Court. The US was also backing the Security Council referral of Libya to the ICC.

In the meantime, UNESCO, which is an agency of the UN, admitted Palestine as a member state on 31 October 2011. Following this move, the Obama Administration and Israel chose to cut their funding to the UNESCO opposing Palestine’s full-fledged member status in the UN agency.

In 2015, the state-like body known as the Palestinian Authority (PA) joined the ICC. The PA started to campaign for war crimes investigations against Israel.

The Trump Administration withdrew US membership altogether from the UNESCO in October 2017.

In June 2018, the US also withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council branding it as a “hypocritical and self-serving organisation” that displayed “unending hostility towards Israel”.

As the Hague based ICC decided to go ahead with war-crimes investigations in the occupied Palestine territory, the US started to warn the ICC.

In May 2020, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that the ICC had no authority to investigate because Israel, like the US, never joined the Rome Statute.

However, the ICC investigations on Israeli war crimes in Gaza and West Bank in the occupied and the US war crimes in Afganistan are justified as the Palestinian Authority and Afghanistan have ratified the Rome Statutes.

The Trump administration has also terminated its relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO) on 29 May 2020.

Recently, SL President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has also announced that he would be terminating SL State’s international obligations.

[Video courtesy: BBC News]

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External Links:
ICC: Statement of the International Criminal Court on recent measures announced by the US


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