US Sanctions on ICC Officials Deplored as an Outrageous Escalation of Intimidation Campaign

Press release

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in accordance with the Trump administration’s June 11th executive order, announced Wednesday that sanctions will be taken against Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and the head of the Office of the Prosecutor’s Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division, Phakiso Mochochoko. FIDH condemns the intimidation strategy adopted by the Trump administration against the ICC, and calls upon all States Parties to protect the autonomy, integrity, independence and mandate of the Court.

In response to the ICC’s interest in the alleged crimes committed by US personnel and certain allies particularly relating to the situations in Afghanistan and Palestine, the US administration has intensified its campaign of intimidation and direct attacks against the Court and its personnel. Starting with the revocation of Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s visa in 2019, the intimidation tactics have now escalated to concrete sanctions against these two senior ICC officials and whoever directly engages with or materially supports these investigations, to which the US administration objects. The sanctions include travel bans and freezing of assets for the targeted ICC officials and their families.

"The executive order constitutes a frontal attack against the Court — an international and independent institution — and a violation of the rule of law," declared Delphine Carlens, head of FIDH’s international justice desk.

"The potential for abuse in the imposition of sanctions may affect a very broad category of individuals and entities, thwarting and weakening the work of the Court to fight impunity for the most heinous crimes. This could have devastating effects for the victims."

Delphine Carlens, head of FIDH's international justice desk

This a new step in the US administration’s efforts to ensure impunity for US personnel and allies. The 123 States Parties to the Rome Statute must protect the Court with a strong, public and unanimous global response to counteract this egregious attempt to undermine its mandate and operations. The sanctions will affect not only the designated individuals, but thousands of victims seeking effective justice, reparation, truth and guarantees of non recurrence. Ultimately, the US administration’s measures risk jeopardising the international justice system as whole, undermining its purpose: to guarantee that nobody is above the law, and ensure that the most heinous crimes not be left unpunished.

Since Pompeo’s statement, many reactions have arisen from States Parties, the European Union, the President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, as well as civil society organisations, all condemning this unprecedented and unacceptable attack on the ICC and the rule of law.

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