The US has revoked the visa of the international criminal court’s chief prosecutor in response to her intention to investigate potential war crimes by US soldiers in Afghanistan.
A statement from the office of Fatou Bensouda, a Gambian national, said she would continue to pursue her duties for the court, in The Hague, “without fear or favour” and that she would continue to travel to the US. She has not been restricted from visiting the UN headquarters in New York.
The US state department does not provide details of individual visa cases but made clear it was implementing the threat last month from the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to impose restrictions on any ICC staff who investigated US or allied personnel. The move marked a hardening of America’s policy of non-cooperation with the ICC, and a downgrading of the role of multilateralism.
“The United States will take the necessary steps to protect its sovereignty and to protect our people from unjust investigation and prosecution by the international criminal court,” a state department spokesperson said.
They added that visas would be denied to “ICC officials who are determined to be directly responsible for any ICC effort to conduct a formal investigation of US or allied personnel without the relevant country’s consent”.
The state department said the US would not “interfere with travel to the UN for official UN purposes”.
The US has refused to recognise the ICC since its inception in 2002, weakening the court’s authority and providing an excuse for other countries, most notably in Africa, to also pull their support. In 2017, Burundi became the first nation to leave the ICC.