France frowns US sanctions targeting ICC staff

France frowns US sanctions targeting ICC staff

France on Friday called on the US to withdraw sanctions against employees of the International Criminal Court (ICC), calling the decision an attack on states party to the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the court. “France is dismayed to learn of the June 11, 2020 executive order of the United States government authorising the imposition of sanctions against personnel of the International criminal Court or persons cooperating with it, which could concern state agents,” said Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in a statement in French.

“This decision represents a serious attack against the court and the states party to the Rome Statute and, beyond that, a challenge to multilateralism and the independence of the judiciary,” the statement added. The French response came a day after President Donald Trump authorised US economic and travel sanctions against ICC employees involved in an investigation into whether American forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan.

“We cannot, we will not stand by as our people are threatened by a kangaroo court,” said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, announcing the move Thursday. “I have a message to many close allies in the world. Your people could be next, especially those from NATO countries who fight terrorism in Afghanistan right alongside us,” he said.

France, a NATO member, is one of 123 states party to the Rome Statute, the 1998 treaty establishing the ICC.

ICC, UN slam Trump’s decision

Trump’s move has been met with widespread criticism, including a condemnation by the ICC. In a statement released early Friday, the Hague-based court said it “stands firmly by its staff and officials and remains unwavering in its commitment to discharging, independently and impartially, the mandate” laid down in its founding treaty. It said an attack on the ICC also constitutes “an attack against the interests of victims of atrocity crimes, for many of whom the Court represents the last hope for justice”.

The UN also expressed regret over Trump’s latest move. “The independence of the ICC and its ability to operate without interference must be guaranteed so that it can decide matters without any improper influence, inducement, pressures, threats or interference, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reasons,” UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a UN briefing in Geneva Friday. “Victims of gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law and their families have the right to redress and the truth,” he added. (FRANCE 24)

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