The IBA’s response to the war in Ukraine
IBA welcomes removal of sanctions on ICC Prosecutor and senior official
The International Bar Association (IBA) welcomes the repeal of the sanctions placed by United States former president Donald Trump on International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and Phakiso Mochochoko, the Head of the Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division of the Office of the Prosecutor.
IBA President, Sternford Moyo, stated: ‘The IBA welcomes the revocation of Executive Order 13928 and the removal of sanctions from Ms Bensouda and Mr Mochochoko, which were widely viewed as an attack on international justice and the rule of law. This action from the Biden Administration is an important step towards strengthening the US’ recommitment to the rule of law and to justice for atrocity crimes. We now call on the US to seek a constructive way forward with the ICC.’
On Friday 2 April 2021, US President Joseph R Biden revoked his predecessor’s 11 June 2020 Executive Order 13928. Two sets of sanctions had been imposed on Prosecutor Bensouda and Mr Mochochoko: the first was a travel ban on Ms Bensouda in March 2019, followed 18 months later by a freeze on any assets she and Mr Mochochoko may have in the US or US jurisdictions. The Trump administration also made giving ‘material support’ to Ms Bensouda and Mr Mochochoko a potentially sanctionable offence.
Additionally, the US Department of State has also terminated a 2019 policy on visa restrictions on other ICC officials or ICC members who may have been involved in investigating the actions of US troops in Afghanistan or other countries, with US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken stating: ‘These decisions reflect our assessment that the measures adopted were inappropriate and ineffective.’
IBA Executive Director, Mark Ellis, said: ‘The use of sanctions by the Trump administration to harass ICC personnel was an unprecedented attack on the sanctity of international law. Not only did the sanctions impede important work of the ICC and civil society, but also affected those victims seeking justice. We welcome this change of course and look forward to future renewed signs of America’s commitment to international justice.’
The ICC was established in July 1998 under a treaty titled the Rome Statute, which more than 120 countries have signed: the US is not a party to the treaty. Based in The Hague in the Netherlands, the ICC prosecutes the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The IBA has continually condemned the actions of the Trump administration that sought to undermine the ICC by harassing senior officials working on behalf of victims and to obstruct and disrupt ICC investigations.
Director of the IBA’s International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law (ICC & ICL) Programme, Kate Orlovsky, stated: ‘The sanctions were a bully tactic and drew widespread condemnation. Scores of states, including US allies, rejected the measures and united behind the court. With the sanctions behind us, states must remain galvanised, providing full cooperation and support to the ICC.
Prosecutor Bensouda will be succeeded in the role of the ICC’s chief prosecutor in June 2021 by lawyer Karim Khan QC. He may now commence work without the threat of US sanctions.
Notes to the Editor
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The IBA commenced the International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law (ICC & ICL) Programme in 2005. The Programme monitors issues related to fairness and equality of arms at the ICC and other Hague-based war crimes tribunals, and encourages the legal community to engage with the work of these courts. The IBA’s work includes thematic legal analysis of proceedings, and ad hoc evaluations of legal, administrative and institutional issues which could potentially affect the rights of defendants, the impartiality of proceedings and the development of international justice.
The Programme also acts as the interface between the Courts and the global legal community. As such, special focus is placed on monitoring emerging issues of particular relevance to lawyers and collaborating with key partners on specific activities to increase engagement of the legal community on ICC and ICL issues.
Programme information is disseminated through regular reports, expert discussions, workshops and other events and expert legal analysis on issues relevant to our mandate.
Based in The Hague, the IBA ICC & ICL Programme consults and interacts with court officials, civil society organisations, academics and international lawyers.
- The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice.
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