ICC prosecutor addresses UN despite US visa ban

UNITED NATIONS — The Trump administration's revocation of International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda's U.S. visa didn't hinder her from coming to the United Nations on Wednesday to address the Security Council.

Bensouda did not mention the visa ban in her briefing to the council on Libya but she told several reporters afterward that she was given a visa to travel to the U.N. for work, as required under the "host country agreement" between the U.S. and the U.N.

"They said the visa on file was revoked, but the visa for purposes of doing my work at the U.N. wasn't," Bensouda said. "I can stay in New York anywhere — nowhere else."

In March, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ordered the revocation or denial of visas to ICC staff seeking to investigate allegations of war crimes and other abuses by U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

Bensouda's U.S. visa was revoked before last month's decision by ICC judges rejecting her request to open an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan as well as alleged crimes by U.S. forces linked to the conflict.

The judges said an investigation "would not serve the interests of justice" because an investigation and prosecution were unlikely to be successful, as those targeted, including the United States, Afghan authorities and the Taliban, were not expected to cooperate. Human Rights Watch sharply criticized the ruling, calling it "a devastating blow for victims who have suffered grave crimes without redress."

Pompeo said he may also revoke visas of those who seek action against Israel. ICC prosecutors have been conducting a preliminary inquiry since 2015 in the Palestinian territories, including Israel's settlement policy, crimes allegedly committed by both sides in the 2014 Gaza conflict and Hamas rocket attacks aimed at Israeli civilians.

Bensouda said Wednesday that her U.S. visa was revoked because of her ICC and U.N. work.

"It's all because of my work, which I will continue to do ... undeterred," she said.

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