The European Union has called onWashington to reverse its “unacceptable and unprecedented” sanctions on International Criminal Court (ICC) officials who are investigating US troops for potential war crimes.

President Donald Trump authorized economic and travel sanctions against ICC employees who are looking into potential US war crimes in Afghanistan last week. The EU expressed “grave concern” about the US move, in a statement which urged Washington to reverse its decision. The bloc also reaffirmed its “unwavering support” for the ICC. 

The EU said it remains committed to defending the ICC from “any outside interference aimed at obstructing the course of justice and undermining the international system of criminal justice.” It also commented on what it described as increasing pressure facing “rules-based international order,” likely in reference to the US withdrawal from international agreements like the Paris Accord and Iran nuclear deal, along with the Human Rights Council. 

The ICC probe is largely focused on the actions of the Taliban and Afghan security forces, but is also looking into allegations of US personnel abusing prisoners in black sites in Afghanistan, Lithuania, Poland and Romania. 

Announcing the sanctions last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged more countries to join the US in pushing back against the ICC, warning that other nations “could be next” in the court’s sights – particularly NATO members “who fought terrorism in Afghanistan right alongside of us.” This didn’t appear to have the desired effect, as NATO members France and the Netherlands said they were “dismayed” and “very disturbed” by news of the US move.

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