Global Shock After US Sanctions Top International Court Prosecutor Over Afghan Probe

It's not just so-called "rogue states" apparently, but no one is immune from coming under Washington's cross hairs and wrath in the form of economic sanctions and travel restrictions. 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just announced sanctions on Fatou Bensouda, the head prosecutor of The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC), after the ICC previously opened a formal probe into US soldiers committing war crimes in Afghanistan.

This is after already revoking visas and placing travel bans into the US of other ICC personnel and their families. "Today we take the next step, because the ICC continues to target Americans, sadly," Pompeo said Wednesday.

Image: AFP

In early March of this year, The Hague-based ICC first announced it will move forward with its official probe into alleged US war crimes in Afghanistan during the eighteen-year long war.

The ICC had said it would look into allegations against all parties in the conflict, including the Taliban and Afghan military. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had at the time blasted the initiative as "reckless" and dismissed it as "renegade" actions on the part of the international court, vowing that repercussions would follow.

In June when the Trump administration said it would move to sanction any ICC official involved in investigating the alleged war crimes committed by Americans, Pompeo slammed the international body as a "kangaroo court".

Reuters meanwhile quoted one global human rights watchdog director as follows in reaction to the designation

Richard Dicker, Human Rights Watch international justice director, said it was a "stunning perversion of U.S. sanctions."

"The Trump administration has twisted these sanctions to obstruct justice, not only for certain war crimes victims, but for atrocity victims anywhere looking to the International Criminal Court for justice," he said.

This latest action to go after the top prosecutor - treating her as if she were an Iranian IRGC commander or Venezuelan drug trafficker, or part of some terror network - is truly new and unprecedented territory.

The Iranians, for example, are already using this episode to point out how inconsistent and unjust US sanctions and who they target really are, with the Iranian FM calling it "insanity".