Biden lifts ICC sanctions but opposes ICC efforts to investigate US and Israeli crimes

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Joe Biden walks across the South Lawn upon return to the White House in Washington, DC on March 14, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

The US administration of President Joe Biden has lifted sanctions on International Criminal Court (ICC) officials but said it opposes ICC efforts to investigate American and Israeli crimes.

Biden on Friday removed sanctions and additional visa restrictions on officials of the International Criminal Court, which were imposed by former President Donald Trump.

The Trump administration in September 2020 imposed economic sanctions on top ICC officials, including Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. The sanctions froze any US assets Bensouda may have had.

In June, Trump imposed penalties on ICC personnel probing whether American forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan.

In an attempt by the Trump administration to force the Hague-based tribunal out of the investigation into potential war crimes by US military and intelligence officials in the Asian country, Trump took the action, saying that the United States would block all American property and assets of anyone in the ICC involved in the probe.

Trump’s move had angered human rights activists as well as many of America’s allies in Europe, a group now Biden is determined to reconnect with in the wake of souring relations under Trump.

Rights activists slammed Trump's executive order. Human Rights Watch said that Trump's order "demonstrates contempt for the global rule of law."

However, the Biden administration, like other Republican and Democratic administrations in the past, is against the ICC efforts to punish the US and Israel over their crimes.  

A few weeks ago, the Biden administration condemned the ICC for attempting to investigate Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians.

“We continue to disagree strongly with the ICC's actions relating to the Afghanistan and Palestinian situations,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement announcing to end the sanctions.

“We maintain our longstanding objection to the Court’s efforts to assert jurisdiction over personnel of non-States Parties such as the United States and Israel," the statement said.

"We believe, however, that our concerns about these cases would be better addressed through engagement with all stakeholders in the ICC process rather than through the imposition of sanctions,” it added.

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