PA: We will protect ICC staff from threats; US sanctions are unacceptable

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Trump issued an executive order authorizing US sanctions against International Criminal Court employees involved in an investigation into whether American forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan.

The entrance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seen in The Hague (photo credit: REUTERS)

The entrance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seen in The Hague

(photo credit: REUTERS)

The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates on Friday condemned the United States for imposing sanctions on certain International Criminal Court (ICC) employees. The ministry called the move a “grave escalation of threats and intimidation,” and charged that the move constituted a “threat to the principles of international justice and the rules-based order as a whole.”

Further, the PA also expressed its dismay that the US, a permanent member the UN Security Council, would put forward such sanctions, as the council refers situations to the Court “to ensure accountability for perpetrators of egregious crimes.”

“The State of Palestine will work with States Parties to protect Court staff, including judges and their families, from any threats or attempts at coercion,” Tareq Eideh, Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates’s Media Department wrote in a statement.

“We call for urgent measures in support of the Court to help it counter the illegal, provocative and dangerous measures adopted by the United States Administration, in line with the States Parties’ obligations under the Rome Statute, including to preserve the Court and its independence and to foster cooperation with it,” Eideh concluded.

On Thursday, US President Donald Trump issued an executive order authorizing US 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,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in announcing the move and warned other nations.

“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.

Pompeo said that “the International Criminal Court chases American soldiers. It also threatens to investigate Israel for alleged war crimes. It is clear that the court is looking at Israel unfairly,” according to Israel’s KAN News.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wants to investigate possible crimes committed between 2003 and 2014, including alleged mass killings of civilians by the Taliban, as well as the alleged torture of prisoners by Afghan authorities and, to a lesser extent, by US forces and the CIA. The ICC investigation was given the go-ahead in March.

Tamar Beeri contributed to this report.

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