Biden repeals Trump sanctions on ICC

Progressives in Congress and human rights organizations on Friday hailed the Biden administration’s repeal of sanctions against the International Criminal Court imposed under former President Donald Trump in an attempt to put pressure on the tribunal on Friday based in The Hague so that it does not investigate alleged American and Israeli crimes.

“This is a long overdue victory for international justice and the rule of law.”
-Representing. Ilhan omar

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announcement in a statement that President Joe Biden revoked Trump’s Executive Order 13928, “ending the threat and imposition of economic sanctions and visa restrictions in relation to the tribunal.”

This decision puts an end to the sanctions imposed on the outgoing ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda and Phakiso Mochochoko, head of the Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division of the Office of the Prosecutor.

“The State Department has also ended the separate 2019 policy on visa restrictions for certain ICC personnel. These decisions reflect our assessment that the measures adopted were inappropriate and ineffective, ”said Blinken. He added that “we continue to strongly disagree with the actions of the ICC regarding the Afghan and Palestinian situations”, but believe that “our concerns regarding these cases would be better addressed through engagement with all stakeholders” .

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) responded development on Twitter, saying “this is a long overdue victory for international justice and the rule of law.”

“It’s time for us to think about what we say and say what [we] means on human rights once and for all, ”said Omar, adding that she was proud to join Representatives Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) and Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) in lobbying for the lifting of sanctions.

The ICC investigates and tries those accused of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression. It was established by a 1998 treaty which entered into force in 2002, shortly after the Bush administration Recount the Secretary General of the United Nations that the United States would not become a party.

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which represents victims in ICC investigations into the Situation in Afghanistan and the Situation in Palestine– said on Friday that “Trump’s sanctions have set a dangerous precedent for attacks on victims, lawyers, human rights defenders and the courts, and Biden’s repeal is a welcome step, although belated, towards the reduction of the US obstruction of the responsibility of the International Criminal Court for the most part. serious crimes. “

“Prosecutor Bensouda rightly called for an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Palestine and Afghanistan, including torture in the United States, as serious and widespread crimes against civilians in both situations had gone unpunished, “said the CCR press release. “The United States and Israel have had the opportunity to investigate and hold their own citizens accountable for international crimes, and they have failed to do so. Victims have the right to turn to the ICC as a court of last resort to end impunity. These investigations must now proceed quickly. “

Denouncing the “odious” executive order and a Trump presidency “marked by a total disregard for human rights and the rule of law”, the group stressed that now “the United States has the possibility of resetting its relations with the ICC – and justice issues more broadly. “

The ACLU, of which senior lawyer Steven watt represents six survivors and victims of alleged crimes committed by the US military and CIA personnel in Afghanistan, also welcomed the change in policy of the new administration.

“We are delighted that President Biden has finally overturned President Trump’s unconstitutional sanctions order. This is a victory for our clients and all those who support the ICC’s pursuit of justice,” said Scarlet Kim, lawyer within the ACLU National Security Project. “The unprecedented sanctions against the ICC have been another terrible legacy of the Trump administration, which has clearly shown its contempt for human rights and the rule of law. “

Lawyers rrepresented by the ACLU and Covington & Burling for follow-up the Trump administration on sanctions in January. One of the complainants was Leila N. Sadate, Special Advisor on Crimes Against Humanity to the ICC Prosecutor.

“This decision by the Biden administration opens the door for me and my co-complainants to resume our essential human rights work,” Sadat said on Friday. “The sanctions regime has crippled my work by preventing me from providing legal advice and assistance for the ICC’s investigations and prosecutions of crimes against humanity around the world.

Daniel Balson, director of advocacy at Amnesty International USA, called Trump’s sanctions “an act of vandalism against a fundamental mechanism of international justice.” He called the repeal “a crucial first step towards removing obstacles to international justice and holding perpetrators of human rights violations to account around the world.”

“Biden has taken an important step towards repairing the damage caused by his predecessor to their courageous cause,” he said, while urging the president to go even further, in particular to “reaffirm the American signing of the Statute. of Rome “, the treaty that created the court and to support the work of the ICC.

“The ICC remains a key mechanism of justice for those who have suffered some of the world’s worst crimes, whether in Myanmar or Darfur,” Balson said. “The ICC is a court of last resort; it exists to provide justice in situations where states are unwilling or unable to do so. It is a tribunal for the people, and its staff must be allowed to investigate and prosecute injustices without fear of intimidation. “

“Today, the Biden administration has made a down payment to achieve this goal,” he said. “But that’s far from enough.”

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