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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Top lawyers condemn US over ICC sanctions

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By Omar Bah

Gambian politician and lawyer Mai Fatty has joined Nigerian lawyer Femi Falana to condemn the United States’ decision to sanction the International Criminal Courts (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

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Last week, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, told reporters that the Trump administration was leveling sanctions on ICC Chief Prosecutor and one of her top aides. Pompeo also announced the US decision to freeze the assets of the top ICC officials.

In a statement sent to this medium, renowned Nigerian campaigner, Femi Falana said: “President Trump is embarrassed by the audacity of the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into the war crimes and gross human rights violations that took place in Afghanistan.”

“There is every indication that U.S. armed forces and the CIA may be indicted for crimes against humanity. The Government of the United States had thought that her citizens were immune from investigation and prosecution by the Court. But that has been frontally challenged by the Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda who had requested that the court’s pre-trial chamber should authorize an investigation into the situation in Afghanistan,” Falana said.

The renowned lawyer said the implication “is that apart from the crimes allegedly committed by the Taliban and Afghan security forces, the prosecutor has declared her plan to investigate the ill-treatment of detainees by U.S. armed forces and the CIA.”

“President Trump is fighting back by revoking the US visas of top officials of the Court. Since the revocation of the visas did not deter the Chief Prosecutor and her staff from pursuing the investigation the Trump administration has decided to charge them with frivolous criminal charges.

Since this is the first time that a leading western government is being investigated for war crimes the Chief Prosecutor has demonstrated that no nation is above International law. This is a commendable effort that will enhance the integrity of the Court. The entire civilised community must rally round the ICC and prevent the United States from intimidating and blackmailing the Chief Prosecutor with a view to silencing her,” Falana added.

Mai Fatty

The Gambia Moral Congress leader Mai Fatty added his voice. He said: “It is unfortunate that the country that assumes the primary role as the global custodian and guarantor of international human rights, the rule of law and democracy has become the main persecutor of persons mandated by the international community to protect and defend human dignity.

Regrettably the United States which used to represent hope, is rapidly losing its reputation as a defender of human dignity. Sanction against Mrs Bensouda amounts to legitimising crimes against humanity and enthroning international impunity.”

He argued that the US’ action is inconsistent with the policy adopted by its allies around the world and sends a very encouraging message to perpetrators of heinous crimes, particularly war crimes.

“The international standing of the United States is being irreparably damaged. The U.S is already isolated on important global considerations and this latest Rambo diplomacy will further isolate and lower the estimation of the global community towards the Trump administration. I join voices around the world for a review and reversal of this unwise decision.”

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