The International Criminal Court (ICC) has condemned the economic sanctions imposed by the US on its prosecutor and a member of her office, saying it was "unprecedented and serious". "These coercive acts, directed at an international judicial institution and its civil servants, are unprecedented and constitute serious attacks against the Court, the Rome Statute system of international criminal justice, and the rule of law more generally," Xinhua news agency quoted the Hague-based court as saying in a statement on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, the US imposed sanctions on ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and the head of the Jurisdiction Complementarity and Cooperation Division Phakiso Mochochoko for continuing to probe alleged war crimes committed by Americans in Afghanistan.

International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court, Netherlands Wikimedia Commons

Freezing of Assets

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the ICC of "illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction", while announcing the sanctions, in accordance with an executive order issued in June by President Donald Trump involving "Blocking Property of Certain Persons Associated with the ICC".

The sanctions include a freeze on assets held in the US or subject to American law. O-Gon Kwon, president of the Assembly of States Parties of the ICC, also condemned the sanctions, saying that he strongly rejects "such unprecedented and unacceptable measures against a treaty-based international organization".

UN to Monitor Developments

"They only serve to weaken our common endeavour to fight impunity for mass atrocities," he added. Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said "we continue to closely follow developments on this matter".

"We will be analyzing any possible implications that this development may have with respect to the implementation of the agreement," he said. Cooperation between the UN and the ICC is founded on their Relationship Agreement, which was approved by the General Assembly on September 13, 2004. As the top prosecutor, Bensouda has visited the US frequently to attend key meetings in the Security Council.