The Trump Administration is facing a legal challenge after imposing sanctions on the International Criminal Court (ICC) employees. Human rights lawyers claim the sanctions “unconstitutional.”
The Open Society Justice Initiative filed the legal challenge against the executive order with a district court in New York on Thursday, October 1, 2020.
In the filing, the Society names Trump, Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State, and seven other members of the President’s administration. They contend the order violates the constitutional rights of people working in international justice.
The issue started earlier this year when economic and travel sanctions were authorized against employees and supporters of the ICC. The reason cited was their investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan and if there is any U.S. involvement.
Those helping or prosecuting in the ICC investigation without U.S. consent can have their U.S. assets frozen and are also barred (including their families) from visiting the country.
In early September, Pompeo announced the blacklisting of Fatou Bensouda, the ICC prosecutor who approved the inquiry into the crimes committed in Afghanistan between the period 2003 and 2014. The investigation includes the alleged torture of prisoners by Afghan authorities and mass killings of civilians by the Taliban, and U.S. force and CIA involvement to a lesser extent.
In his statement, the executive director of Open Society Justice Initiative James Golden called the order outrageous and a violation of the constitution of the US. He emphasized Washington’s support of international justice over the years and called it a snub to its allies.
He stated: “We are going to court to end this reckless assault on a judicial institution and the victims it serves.”
According to Reuters, the move has been called an attack on the court by the ICC. Countries of the European Union and rights groups have also rejected the sanctions. All agree the move is detrimental to the rule of law that seeks international justice for war crimes.
The ICC was established in 2002 to prosecute all crimes against humanity, including genocide and war crimes. It was recently called a “kangaroo court” by Pompeo and the Trump Administration has accused Moscow of manipulating the court for its own purposes. Officials of the Trump Administration have also said the court is threatening to infringe on the national sovereignty of the U.S.