ICC prosecutor investigating U.S. war crimes allegations loses U.S. visa

The ICC building in Den Haag
The ICC building in Den Haag. 19 July 2017photo: Roman_Yanushevsky / DepositPhotos

A prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague was denied a visa to enter the United States because of her involvement in an investigation into war crimes allegations levied against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Fatou Bensouda is frequently asked to update the United Nations on ICC cases at the UN headquarters building in New York, reported Reuters.

Bensouda has been investigating possible war crimes in Afghanistan for nearly 18 months. Some of the allegations were connected to people detained in that country and the involvement of Americans in their detention.

“I’m announcing a policy of US visa restrictions on those individuals directly responsible for any ICC investigation of US personnel,” said Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State, back in March. “If you’re responsible for the proposed ICC investigation of U.S. personnel in connection with the situation in Afghanistan you should not assume that you still have, or will get, a visa or that you will permitted to enter the United States.”

“We can confirm that the U.S. authorities have revoked the prosecutor’s visa for entry into the U.S.,” Bensouda’s office told Reuters this week. She will continue her job "without fear or favour," her office added.

Bensouda, and other people traveling to the U.N. on official business, can still apply for a diplomatic visa to attend meetings at the United Nations, a U.S. State Department spokesperson told the news agency. “We recommend that applicants apply as early as possible to maximize the chances of being found eligible.”

"The ICC is investigating possible war crimes by all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan. It acts only when countries have failed to do so adequately themselves," wrote Nicholas Dawes of Human Rights Watch. "In trying to frustrate Bensouda's work, US authorities prove only that they fear that test."

The United States, Russia, China, Israel and Iraq are among several nations which did not ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Though the U.S. is a signatory on the 1998 treaty, the nation did not ratify the agreement. "Accordingly, the United States has no legal obligations arising from its signature on December 31, 2000," the U.S. government informed the UN Secretary General in May 2002, according to the U.N.