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Statement of ABA President Judy Perry Martinez re: U.S. Sanctions of International Criminal Court Personnel

Washington, D.C., Friday, June 12, 2020 - The American Bar Association expressed deep concern today over recently announced US policy authorizing sanctions on the International Criminal Court, its staff, and others. 

On Thursday, June 11, 2020, Secretary of State Pompeo, joined by several other administration officials, announced that the Trump administration was “authorizing the imposition of economic sanctions against ICC officials directly engaged in the ICC efforts to investigate U.S. personnel or allied personnel against that allied state’s consent, and against others who materially support such officials’ activities,” as well as “expanding visa restrictions for officials directly engaged in those same investigations,” including their family members. The potential sanctions are detailed in Executive Order 13928.

In a statement, ABA President Judy Perry Martinez recalled the ABA’s long support for the Court and renewed the ABA’s “longstanding call that the U.S. conduct and complete its own thorough investigation and prosecution of any atrocity crimes committed by U.S. officials and personnel and, in so doing, exercise U.S. sovereignty.” The ICC is a court of last resort, and only has jurisdiction where states themselves are unwilling or unable to prosecute the crimes the ICC is investigating. The ICC is currently investigating atrocity crimes committed on the territory of Afghanistan, an ICC State Party, which include crimes allegedly committed by the Taliban as well as crimes allegedly committed by Afghan national forces and US armed forces and CIA personnel. Allegations against US personnel are focused on alleged torture and detainee abuse.

“As Secretary Pompeo has acknowledged,” President Martinez noted, “the U.S. is able to conduct its own investigations of such actions which, if carried out, would effectively eliminate ICC jurisdiction. But to date the U.S. has not done so.”

Around the world, other bar associationsand groups of civil society organizations, lawyersStates Parties, and UN experts 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.

The ABA calls upon the U.S. government to refrain from attacks on the ICC and its personnel and respect its independence."

— ABA President Judy Perry Martinez