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US revokes ICC prosecutor’s entry visa over Afghanistan war crimes probe

Fatou Bensouda. (Stephan Röhl/Flickr)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The United States has revoked the entry visa of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, who is investigating possible war crimes committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month that Washington would withdraw or deny visas to ICC staff investigating such allegations against U.S. forces or their allies.

Bensouda’s office on April 5 confirmed U.S. authorities revoked her visa but said the ICC prosecutor would continue her duties “without fear or favor.”

The move was criticized by the United Nations and the European Union.

A 2016 report from the ICC said there was a reasonable basis to believe that the U.S. military had committed torture at secret detention sites in Afghanistan operated by the CIA, and that the Afghan government and the Taliban had committed war crimes.

The United States does not recognize the court as having jurisdiction over U.S. citizens, but Americans can be charged with crimes that are allegedly committed in countries that are members of the court and Afghanistan is a member.

ICC judges have not yet handed down a decision on opening a formal investigation in Afghanistan.

The ICC is a court of last resort with 122 member states.

It acts only when countries within its jurisdiction are found to be unable or unwilling to seriously investigate war crimes, genocide, or other serious atrocities.