For Immediate Release

U.S. Sanctions on ICC Prosecutor Constitute “Full Frontal Attack on Rule of Law,” Human Rights Attorneys Say

NEW YORK - In response to the Trump administration’s designation, announced today by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, of International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and prosecution jurisdiction division director Phakiso Mochochoko as targets of U.S. sanctions, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement:

Today’s designation of senior International Criminal Court staff for sanctions is an unprecedented targeting of an international prosecutor seeking to enforce international law and universally-recognized the prohibitions on the commission of war crimes and torture. The ICC was established to put an end to impunity and to prevent serious crimes against civilians. 

With its action today, the United States makes clear that it stands with dictators and war criminals, and not with victims of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

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In a blatant politicization of efforts to achieve accountability and justice for grave human rights violations, the Trump administration has further threatened penalties against those who “materially support” investigations it disfavors and interfered with lawyers’ ability to represent clients who allege being victims of the most serious crimes. 

The Executive Order establishing the framework for sanctions followed the ICC’s authorization of an investigation into international crimes—including crimes committed by U.S. actors —in relation to the war in Afghanistan, as well as the ICC prosecutor’s approval of an investigation into Israeli war crimes in Palestine, and today’s announcement follows Pompeo’s trip to Israel; the Center for Constitutional Rights represents victims in both Situations. Throughout its tenure, the Trump administration has consistently waged a campaign against international justice and the independence of the judiciary. The vague and broad scope of the Executive Order, which invokes the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the civil and criminal penalties thereunder, and Pompeo’s use of language often used to criminalize activity allegedly related to terrorism—“material support”—in order to target judicial proceedings and international justice is chilling.

Today’s announcement is a full frontal attack on the rule of law. 

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The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

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