US revokes visa of International Criminal Court prosecutor

Fatou Bensouda has been investigating possible war crimes – including torture – committed by American forces in Afghanistan

Colin Drury
Friday 05 April 2019 19:54
Watching and waiting: the ICC’s Fatou Bensouda
Watching and waiting: the ICC’s Fatou Bensouda

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has been barred from entering the US, it has been revealed.

Fatou Bensouda has had her entry visa revoked by Washington.

The decision is understood to be in response to her long-running investigation into possible war crimes, including torture, committed by American forces in Afghanistan.

It comes just weeks after Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, warned he would withdraw or deny visas to any ICC staff involved in probing any such allegations.

He said in March: “If you’re responsible for the proposed ICC investigation of US personnel in connection with the situation in Afghanistan, you should not assume that you will still have or get a visa, or that you will be permitted to enter the United States.

“We’re prepared to take additional steps, including economic sanctions if the ICC does not change its course.”

But on Friday Ms Bensouda’s office said she would not be cowed by being barred from the country. It added she would continue her duties “without fear or favour”.

The 58-year-old Gambian has been investigating alleged war crimes by all parties in the Afghan conflict since November 2017, including the possible role of US personnel in torturing enemy combatants at secret detention sites operated by the CIA.

ICC judges are still reviewing materials and have not yet handed down a decision on opening a formal investigation in Afghanistan.

But an earlier 2016 report said there was a reasonable basis to believe the US military had been involved in such torture.

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The US, which has been critical of the ICC since it was established in 2002, is among a minority of countries which has not ratified the court’s authority.

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