ICC searches new prosecutor: US cancels Bensouda visa

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Bensouda

By CNN

US authorities revoked International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s entry visa to the United States, her office and the US State Department confirmed Friday.

“It is our understanding that should not have an impact on the Prosecutor’s travel to the US to meet her obligations to the UN, including regular briefings before the UN Security Council,” her office said in a statement.

“The Office of the Prosecutor has an independent and impartial mandate under the Rome Statute of the ICC. The Prosecutor and her Office will continue to undertake that statutory duty with utmost commitment and professionalism, without fear or favor,” it said.

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A State Department spokesperson reiterated that the US would “take the necessary steps to protect its sovereignty and to protect our people from unjust investigation and prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC).”

UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said Friday that they “expect the United States to live up to the agreement to allow for the travel of ICC staff members to do their work at the United Nations.”

The State Department spokesperson said the US will implement the visa restrictions “consistent with applicable law, including the UN Headquarters Agreement.”

“Under these measures, we will not interfere with travel to the UN for official UN purposes,” they said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in mid-March that the US would revoke or deny visas to ICC personnel — a move meant to deter a potential investigation by the Hague-based judicial body into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by US troops in Afghanistan.

Pompeo said the restrictions apply to “persons who take or have taken action to request or further such an investigation.”

Pompeo also warned about potential economic sanctions “if the ICC does not change its course.”

The US is not a member of the ICC.

ICC looks for new prosecutor

Meanwhile, ICC has advertised the position of the chief prosecutor since the contract of the current office bearer, Fatou Bensouda is soon expiring.

Bensouda whose 10-year-term will be expiring on June 15, 2021, is currently prosecuting the former rebel of the Lord Resistance Army (LRA), Dominic Ongwen for alleged atrocities he committed in the two-decade insurgency in Northern Uganda that left hundreds dead and houses burnt.

Ongwen is currently defending himself before The Hague based court in the Netherlands.

“The term of the current Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court will expire on June 15, 2021. The Assembly of States Parties, acting pursuant to its mandate under article 112 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (the Rome Statute), has initiated the process for the selection of the next Prosecutor,” reads in part a press statement posted on ICC website on Wednesday.

Adding; “President of the Assembly of States Parties Mr O-Gon Kwon (Republic of Korea), welcomes the publication of the vacancy announcement for the position of Prosecutor of the ICC.”

According to Article 42, paragraph 3, of the Rome Statute, it sets out the main criteria to be fulfilled by candidates for the position.

It is comprises representatives of States that have ratified and acceded to the Rome Statute.

President Kwon was elected President of the Assembly for a three year mandate in December 2017.

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