USA revokes sanctions against International Criminal Court

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada welcomes the US government’s revocation of sanctions against personnel of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 2 April 2021.

The previous administration of Donald J. Trump had issued  Executive Order 13928 imposing sanctions on the ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and Phakiso Mochochoko, the Head of the Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division of the Office of the Prosecutor. These sanctions have now been lifted.

LRWC issued a 29 March 2021 statement advocating an immediate end to the sanctions, because they constituted “a direct attack on the judicial independence of the ICC, undermine[d] access to justice for victims of atrocity crimes, and contribute[d] to impunity for the perpetrators.” LRWC’s statement was sent to US President Joe Biden and US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken. The US Department of State has also terminated its 2019 policy to restrict visa for other ICC officials involved in investigating the actions of US troops in Afghanistan and other countries. Fatou Bensouda ends her term as Chief Prosecutor of the ICC in June 2021. She will be succeeded by lawyer Karim Khan QC, who will begin his mandate free of the threat of US sanctions.

LRWC has repeatedly urged the US to end its threats against the ICC, and continues to urge the US to ensure future respect for the independence of the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC and to establish a cooperative relationship with the ICC and its personnel that respects the international rule of law and the duty of all States to uphold its international obligations to prosecute international crimes.