The US has revoked the visa of the international criminal court’s chief prosecutor in response to her intention to investigate potential war crimes by US soldiers in Afghanistan.
However a statement from the office of Fatou Bensouda, a Gambian national, said she would continue to pursue her duties for the court, in The Hague, “without fear or favour” and that she would. She has not been restricted from visiting the UN headquarters in New York.
The US state department does not provide details of individual visa cases but made clear it was implementing the threat ast month from the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to impose restrictions on any ICC staff who investigated US or allied personnel.
Bensouda’s office said she had an “independent and impartial mandate” under the Rome statute governing the ICC. “The prosecutor and her office will continue to undertake that statutory duty with utmost commitment and professionalism, without fear or favour,” it added.
Bensouda makes regular trips to the UN in New York, where she gives briefings to the security council. The UN office is seen as covered by a form of diplomatic immunity.
“It is our understanding that [the visa withdrawal] should not have an impact on the prosecutor’s travel to the US to meet her obligations to the UN,” a spokesperson for her office said.
Bensouda asked ICC judges in November 2017 for authorisation to open an investigation into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan by the Taliban, Afghan government forces and international forces, including US troops.
The investigation is also expected to examine CIA activity in detention centres in Afghanistan. The court has not yet decided whether to launch a full-blown investigation that would cover events after 2002.