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International Criminal Court denounces U.S. sanctions over Afghanistan probe

By
Don Jacobson
The International Criminal Court in The Hague has condemned sanctions placed on it by U.S. President Donald Trump after its decision to investigate alleged war crimes in Afghanistan. File photo by By OSeveno/Wikimedia Commons/UPI
The International Criminal Court in The Hague has condemned sanctions placed on it by U.S. President Donald Trump after its decision to investigate alleged war crimes in Afghanistan. File photo by By OSeveno/Wikimedia Commons/UPI

June 12 (UPI) -- The International Criminal Court has condemned U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order imposing sanctions on court investigators probing alleged war crimes by the American military in Afghanistan.

The ICC on Thursday expressed "profound regret" at Trump's move, which was announced earlier in the day at the White House.

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The Hague-based tribunal, which investigates war crimes and genocides, said it "stands firmly by its staff and officials and remains unwavering in its commitment to discharging, independently and impartially, the mandate bestowed upon it by the Rome Statute and the States that are party to it."

It called the Trump sanctions the "latest in a series of unprecedented attacks on the ICC" and an "unacceptable attempt to interfere with the rule of law and the Court's judicial proceedings."

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In the executive order, Trump called the ICC a "threat" while declaring a national emergency against the body.

The United States is not among the 123 countries party to the Rome Statute establishing the ICC in 2002, nor does it recognize its authority.

"Any attempt by the ICC to investigate, arrest, detain or prosecute any United States personnel without the consent of the United States constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat," Trump said in the executive order.

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Attorney General William Barr has accused "foreign powers like Russia" of manipulating the court.

The ICC in March authorized Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to proceed with a far-reaching investigation into whether forces of the United States, Afghanistan and the Taliban committed war crimes.

The European Union's top diplomat called Trump's decision "a matter of serious concern."

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"The court has been playing a key role in providing international justice and addressing the gravest international crimes -- it is a key factor in bringing justice and peace. It must be respected and supported by all nations," EU foreign affairs high representative Josep Borrell told reporters.

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