President Trump issued an executive order to authorize sanctions against ICC employees involved in an investigation into potential war crimes committed by U.S. forces.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order to authorize economic sanctions against officials involved in an International Criminal Court investigation into potential war crimes committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

The executive order authorizes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in consultation with Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and the Attorney General William Barr, to block assets in the U.S. of ICC employees involved in the investigation. 

Pompeo can also bar the entry of these employees. 

What happened?

The ICC was established in 2002 to investigate and, where warranted, prosecute individuals charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. It does not replace national criminal justice systems.

This executive order follows an incident in April 2019 in which the U.S. revoked the entry visa of Fatou Bensouda, a prosecutor, amid her pending investigation into U.S. military action in Afghanistan. 

The U.S. never ratified the ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, because, Pompeo said last year, the ICC is “attacking America’s rule of law.”

In Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s statement about the executive order, she writes, “The International Criminal Court’s actions are an attack on the rights of the American people and threaten to infringe upon our national sovereignty.”

“The International Criminal Court was established to provide accountability for war crimes, but in practice, it has been an unaccountable and ineffective international bureaucracy that targets and threatens United States personnel as well as personnel of our allies and partners.”  

Bensouda is looking to investigate possible war crimes committed between 2003 and 2014, including alleged mass killings of civilians by the Taliban and the alleged torture of prisoners by Afghan authorities, and to a lesser extent, by U.S. forces and the CIA. 

Candy Chan

Candy Chan is studying History with a focus on War and Revolution at Barnard College. She is currently a staff writer at the Columbia Daily Spectator, covering issues pertaining to Columbia's...