Washington, D.C., Monday, April 8, 2019 - The American Bar Association expressed concern today over recently announced US policy to restrict visas for certain officials of the International Criminal Court.
On Friday, March 15, 2019, Secretary of State Pompeo announced that the United States would restrict visas for “individuals directly responsible for any ICC investigation of U.S. personnel,” including “persons who take or have taken action to request or further such an investigation.” The administration also indicated that it may use visa restrictions “to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel,” and that it may employ additional measures such as economic sanctions for those purposes in the future. The ICC confirmed in April that the United States had indeed revoked the visa of the Court’s Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda. These policies follow earlier statements regarding the Court made by administration officials in September 2018.
In a statement, ABA President Bob Carlson recalled the ABA’s long support for the Court and greater US engagement with it. He noted that the Court’s existence has “strengthened the expectation of justice held by victims and states alike.”
“In the United States, the independence and impartiality of our justice system is foundational to our democracy and commitment to the rule of law,” Carlson said. “Although the United States is not a member of the ICC, barring the travel of legal professionals because of their work on behalf of this international tribunal sends the wrong message about the United States’ commitment to those same principles in the pursuit of international justice and accountability.
The ABA urges the State Department to immediately reverse this policy decision and to refrain from taking actions against legal professionals based solely on their work on behalf of the ICC.”
Around the world, States Parties and other civil society organizations also expressed similar concern about the policies.
Read the ABA’s full statement here.
The American Bar Association’s (ABA) International Criminal Court (ICC) Project is an independent initiative of the ABA Center for Human Rights and Criminal Justice Section that advances international criminal justice and US-ICC relations through advocacy, education and practical legal assistance. For more information about the ABA’s ICC Project, please visit its website.