The Rights Group is initiating a legal challenge to Trump’s order imposing economic sanctions on International Criminal Court staff.
Human rights lawyers have launched a legal challenge to US President Donald Trump’s Executive Order, which imposes economic sanctions on staff at the World’s Standing War Crimes Tribunal, on the grounds that it violates the United States Constitution.
A filing on Thursday in New York by the Open Society Justice Initiative, a US war crimes legal center that specializes in war crimes cases, named Trump, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and seven other members of his administration.
It has been argued that the Executive Ordinance violates constitutional rights, including freedom of expression, and prevents plaintiffs from carrying out work in support of international justice.
“With this outrageous order, the Trump administration betrayed Washington’s longstanding support for the international justice system, abused its allies and violated the US Constitution,” said James Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, in a statement.
“We will go to court to end this ruthless attack on a judicial agency and the victims it serves.”
NEW: We’re bringing the Trump administration to justice for their executive order approving draconian sanctions against those who support the @IntlCrimCourt https://t.co/8GAw6NhLty
– Open Society Justice Initiative (@OSFJustice) October 1, 2020
Trump approved US economic and travel sanctions on June 12 against staff at the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) and anyone who supports its work, citing their involvement in an investigation into whether US forces had committed war crimes in Afghanistan .
On September 2, Pompeo said ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had been blacklisted.
The ICC said the measures were an attack on the court, the international criminal justice system and the rule of law in general.
Dozens of countries and rights groups have opposed US sanctions as detrimental to efforts to secure international justice for war crimes.
Thursday’s legal move was widely welcomed by right-wing advocates and labeled an “important development”.
This executive order jeopardizes the work of human rights lawyers who seek justice, including those who work to ensure that the needs of children affected by conflict are addressed by the #ICC.
Many thanks to @DianeMarieAmann and @OSFJustice for your work and commitment. https://t.co/twTKodSGJ3
– Miriam Abaya (@AbayaMiriam) October 1, 2020
“The Order treats human rights researchers like terrorists and aims to protect war criminals from accountability for their crimes. It’s a grotesque and shameful document, ”Jameel Jaffer, executive director at Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute, said on Twitter.
The Order treats human rights researchers like terrorists and aims to protect war criminals from accountability for their crimes. It is a grotesque and shameful document. This legal challenge just submitted by @OSFjustice is important. https://t.co/S47jIxhTaB
– Jameel Jaffer (@JameelJaffer) October 1, 2020
Under Trump’s executive order, measures include freezing the U.S. assets of those who help the ICC investigate or prosecute American citizens without U.S. consent, and expelling them and their families from the U.S.
The main target of the move is Bensouda, who was granted permission in March to investigate possible crimes in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2014.
These include alleged mass murders of civilians by the Taliban and the alleged torture of prisoners by Afghan authorities and, to a lesser extent, by US forces and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Pompeo announced the executive order in June and called the ICC established by the international community in 2002 to prosecute war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity a “kangaroo court”.
Trump administration officials also said they threatened a violation of US national sovereignty and accused Russia of manipulating it to serve Moscow’s purposes.