The International Criminal Court says United States President Donald Trump’s decision to impose sanctions on court employees investigating alleged war crimes in Afghanistan is not only an attack on the court and the system of international criminal justice, but on the interests of the victims of atrocities.

“These are the latest in a series of unprecedented attacks on the ICC,” the Hague-based court said in a statement.

“These attacks constitute an escalation and an unacceptable attempt to interfere with the rule of law and the Court’s judicial proceedings,” said the ICC.

Trump signed an executive order on Thursday to block the financial assets of court employees and bar them and their immediate relatives from entering the US.

The administration accused the court, which the US has never recognised, of infringing on its sovereignty.

“We cannot, we will not stand by as our people are threatened by a kangaroo court,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in announcing the move.

The ICC was established in 2002 to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity and genocide in areas where perpetrators might not otherwise face justice. Some 123 states from across the world recognise its jurisdiction.