Today, we call on your administration to demonstrate your commitment to human rights and alignment with the international legal order by fully rescinding, with immediate effect, your predecessor’s Executive Order 13928 “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Associated with the International Criminal Court,” which targets international justice efforts before the ICC directly, and further threatens international efforts towards accountability for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole. The Executive Order (EO), adopted on June 11, 2020, which authorized sanctions against certain persons engaged in activities before an independent judicial body – the ICC – as well as civil and criminal penalties against those who provide support to designated persons, is a direct attack against the rule of law. To allow EO 13928 to remain in effect will, we submit, be a continuing stain on the United States and call into question its stated commitment to human rights, the rule of law and the international legal order.
The ICC continues to anchor the fight against impunity at the international level, and is a key agent for holding those alleged to bear the greatest responsibility for core international crimes to account before impartial, independent justice and with fair trial guarantees. Since its inception, our Federation and a great number of its member organizations have turned to the ICC as an accountability mechanism of last resort, and brought to it the voices of thousands of victims seeking redress. After losing hard-fought battles for justice before unwilling or unable domestic jurisdictions, victims have been able to turn to the ICC as a final avenue for justice. The Court - empowered and legitimized by its 123 States Parties - has provided the possibility of justice in the face of dictatorships, situations of entrenched impunity, ongoing conflicts and crises, and against political dominance.
The Trump administration’s attack against the ICC, its work, its personnel and civil society that supports its mission is one of the many examples of its disregard for multilateralism and its international obligations to protect and implement core human rights, including equal access to justice, redress and reparation for victims of the most serious crimes. The Trump administration’s aggressive campaign against the ICC intensified over the past year following developments at the Court regarding the situations of Afghanistan and Palestine. This constitutes an unprecedented attack on the work of the ICC and more broadly on the fight against impunity, sending a signal that could embolden authoritarian regimes and other perpetrators of international crimes who seek to escape justice. We call upon you to reject this attack on the rule of law and the de facto system of selective justice it reflects.
Through the adoption of the June 11, 2020 Executive Order 13928, which sought to punish the ICC and obstruct its very functioning, and the subsequent September 2, 2020 designation for sanctions of ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and the head of the Court’s Jurisdiction, Complementarity, and Cooperation Division, Phakiso Mochochoko, the Trump administration significantly impeded the work of the Court and further prevented human rights defenders from carrying out their work. The sanctioning of key ICC actors and the threat of sanctions and criminal penalties against all those who “materially assist” or “support” them, has rendered any engagement with the ICC Office of the Prosecutor challenging if not impossible, thereby undermining its ability to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the most heinous crimes. This obstruction of justice by the Trump administration constitutes a frontal attack against the independence of judges, prosecutors, and lawyers, and must be reversed immediately.
While the ICC has room for improvement, the Court is a unique and critical institution with the potential to bring justice to thousands of victims who are unable to obtain genuine justice at the national level. We urge you and your administration to recognize the central role of the International Criminal Court in the global fight against impunity, rescind the unconstitutional June 2020 Executive Order against the ICC, and revoke the related sanctions. More broadly, we call upon your administration to adopt and implement a rights-based agenda at home and abroad.