President Biden Should Oppose US Sanctions Against the ICC

121 human rights and civil society groups sent a letter to US President Joe Biden urging him to reject threats and calls for punitive action against the International Criminal Court (ICC).

On 20 May, the ICC prosecutor announced that he was seeking arrest warrants for three Hamas leaders and two senior Israeli officials. Some members of the US Congress have also threatened to retaliate against the ICC, including by imposing sanctions on court officials, if the court issues arrest warrants for Israeli officials in the Palestinian investigation.

Some background: Although the United States is not a member of the ICC, Republican and Democratic administrations have supported the court in certain cases, and the US government has helped arrest suspects wanted by the court. The Biden administration also recognises the court’s important role in addressing serious international crimes in Ukraine and in Sudan’s Darfur region.

In a 22 May letter to the White House, the groups called on President Biden to reject attacks on the court, calling the previous US administration’s sanctions against the prosecutor’s predecessor an affront to justice. “The previous administration’s sanctions against [ICC officials] … aligned the United States with authoritarian tactics that threaten judges and independent judicial institutions,” the letter reads.

The groups also call on Biden to oppose any legislative efforts to weaken the ICC and to make clear that the United States continues to support independent international justice mechanisms, regardless of its views on specific ICC investigations.

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