The US have imposed sanctions on the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, as well as Phakiso Mochochoko, the ICC’s director of jurisdiction, complementary and cooperation division. According to the Trump administration this is because the ICC “continues to target Americans”
According to the Guardian, the US have now classed Bensouda and Mochochoko as “specially designated nationals”, a category that also includes terrorists and narcotics traffickers. This has allowed them to block their assets and it prohibits US citizens from having any dealings with them.
So far, apart from Israel, no other western democracy has supported the move but what did the ICC do to warrant this reactions? It seems they are being targeted for simply having the audacity to launch an investigation into US and Israeli war crimes.
In December 2019, Spotlight Newspaper reported that Israeli Defence Force and Israeli government lawyers had started to engage in a smear campaign against the ICC after the ICC had announced that their preliminary investigation did reveal that war crimes had been committed in the West Bank and that there was enough evidence to warrant a formal investigation.
On the 5th March this year the ICC decided unanimously to open an investigation into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.
What’s particularly odd is that both investigations have a broad scope and so will look at alleged war crimes committed by all parties involved. So, in the case of the Israel investigation, they would also look at Hamas and the Afghan investigation would look at crimes committed by all sides (not just the American), so the argument that the ICC is targeting Americans doesn’t really stand up to close scrutiny.