“We still do not agree with the measures taken by the ICC in relation to the situation in Afghanistan and Palestine,” said Foreign Minister Antony Blinken in a statement announcing an end to the sanctions. “We maintain our longstanding objection to the Court’s efforts to assert jurisdiction over personnel from non-contracting states such as the United States and Israel. However, we believe that our concerns about these cases could be better addressed by engaging everyone involved in the ICC process than by imposing sanctions. “
The Trump administration imposed in September 2020 Economic sanctions against senior ICC officials, including Attorney General Fatou Bensouda. The sanctions have frozen any U.S. assets that Bensouda may have had.
In early 2020, Trump approved the use of such sanctions against the ICC and declared the situation a national emergency, which the court described as a “threat” to the US.
The previous year the Trump administration had Bensouda’s U.S. visa revokedciting their efforts to investigate alleged crimes in Afghanistan. It also said it would ban visas for anyone connected to the court, although there were few details.
The decisions surprised human rights activists as well as some governments. Dozens of countries blamed the Trump movementsA statement that did not name the US said: “Any attempt to undermine the independence of the court should not be tolerated.”
Friday’s announcement found that Biden had revoked an executive order issued by Trump that provided a legal basis for imposing sanctions on ICC officials.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, a progressive Democrat from Minnesota, was among those pushing the Biden administration to lift the ICC sanctions. Omar praised Friday’s announcement.
“The staff of the International Criminal Court are officials who dedicate their lives to enforcing the most heinous crimes imaginable,” she said in a statement. “If we are to live up to our values of respect for human rights and democratic norms, the United States should lead, not block, the pursuit of international justice.”