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Home / Press Release / Human Rights First Criticizes Trump Administration Executive Order On the ICC
June 11, 2020

Human Rights First Criticizes Trump Administration Executive Order On the ICC

WASHINGTON - Human Rights First’s Rob Berschinski today issued the following statement in response to the release of an Executive Order entitled “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Associated with the International Criminal Court”:

"Today’s Executive Order threatening asset freezes and visa restrictions against officials of the International Criminal Court, their family members, and those who assist in their investigations will prove massively counterproductive. 

The United States should do everything in its power to protect U.S. service members while investigating and prosecuting those who may have broken applicable law. Yet today’s EO is another instance of the Trump administration taking action that will alienate many of America’s closest allies while contributing to an atmosphere of impunity for the world’s worst human rights abusers.   

The Executive Order as written is highly problematic. Among other things, it appears to put foreign persons within human rights organizations at risk of sanctions, if those persons have conducted research and reporting on alleged criminal activity by U.S. or allied forces that is used to “assist” an ICC investigation. Furthermore, it appears to indicate that the U.S. Government could sanction ICC staff and their families if they were to investigate crimes in countries allied with the United States. So, for example, the EO seems to threaten the potential for sanctions against ICC staff if they continue to investigate extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. This sends exactly the wrong message concerning the U.S. government’s approach to accountability for human rights violations. 

Finally, irrespective of U.S. government policy concerning the ICC, the overarching effect of this Executive Order will be to undercut the legitimacy of all U.S. targeted sanctions programs. An obviously unnecessary EO of this kind will erode support for U.S. sanctions when it comes to everything from non-proliferation to human rights.”