The United States’ “repeated threats” and recent sanctions on International Criminal Court (ICC) officials are of “deep concern” to Belgium, the foreign affairs minister said.
“Belgium’s support for the Court, as an independent and impartial judicial institution, is unwavering,” Minister Philippe Goffin said in a press release.
Goffin’s statements came after US President Donald Trump on Thursday slapped visa restrictions and economic sanctions on ICC personnel and their families through an executive order.
Trump’s move comes after the international tribunal in The Hague announced it was launching an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity by US and Afghan forces in Afghanistan.
It also comes after the court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouma, signalled a potential investigation into alleged war crimes against Palestinians committed by Israel, a staunch US ally.
“Belgium (…) recalls the responsibilities of the US as a host country of the United Nations (UN),” Goffin said in the statement, writing that visits of ICC officials to the US took place in the framework of the tasks entrusted to the court by the UN Security Council, of which the US is a permanent member.
“Belgium will contact its partners without delay to examine the concrete consequences of these new developments,” Goffin wrote.
The United States does not recognise the authority of the ICC, tasked by the international community to try individuals charged “with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community,” including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In rebuking the ICC’s probes, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has referred to the ICC as a “kangaroo court,” echoing comments by John Bolton, the former national security advisor, who called the court “illegitimate.”
In a statement, the ICC said that the sanctions were the latest in a string of “unprecedented attacks” aimed at interfering with the rule of law by attempting to “influence the actions of ICC officials.”
“An attack on the ICC also represents an attack against the interests of victims of atrocity crimes, for many of whom the Court represents the last hope for justice,” the court wrote.