Department of State Revokes Visa of ICC Chief Prosecutor

Alexander J. Segal's picture

Several outlets have reported that the United States Department of State (DOS) revoked the visa of Fatou Bensouda, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). She is a citizen and national of The Gambia.

The ICC has opened an investigation into whether U.S. persons committed war crimes in Afghanistan. In December of 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that “[w]e will take all necessary steps to protect our people, those of our NATO allies who fight alongside of us inside of Afghanistan from unjust prosecution” [PDF version]. On March 15, 2019, Secretary Pompeo stated: “If you're responsible for the proposed ICC investigation of U.S. personnel in connection with the situation in Afghanistan, you should not assume that you still have, or will get, a visa or that you will be permitted to enter the United States.”1

The ICC confirmed on April 4, 2019, that Besouda's visa had been revoked.2 NPR reported that a DOS official confirmed the revocation of Besouda's visa but did not provide further details due to confidentiality rules.3 Besouda and other ICC officials may still seek diplomatic visas to enter the United States for any business at the United Nations.

The revocation of the visas of Besouda and other ICC officials highlights how foreign policy and immigration can sometimes intersect. We will post updates on the issue in the future if more detailed information becomes available.


  1. Gehrke, Joel. “Pompeo pulls visas for International Criminal Court officials Targeting Americans.” The Washington Examiner. Mar. 15, 2019.
  2. Wroughton, Leslie and Stephanie van den Berg. “U.S. revokes ICC prosecutor's entry visa over Afghanistan Investigation.” Apr. 4, 2019.
  3. Chappell, Bill. “U.S. Strips Visa From Intl. Criminal Court Prosecutor Pursuing War-Crime Inquiry.” NPR. Apr. 5, 2019.
Department of State Revokes Visa of ICC Chief Prosecutor