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Biden Should Oppose US Sanctions on ICC

Uphold Independence of International Criminal Court, Rights Groups Say

International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, April 30, 2024. © 2024 Peter Dejong/AP Photo

(Washington, DC) – US President Joe Biden should oppose threats and calls for punitive actions against the International Criminal Court (ICC), 121 human rights and civil society groups said today in a letter to President Biden.  

On May 20, 2024, the court’s prosecutor announced that he was seeking arrest warrants for three leaders of Hamas and two senior Israeli officials. Some members of the US Congress have threatened to retaliate against the ICC, including by imposing sanctions against court officers, if the court moves forward with arrest warrants against Israeli officials in its Palestine investigation. 

Although the United States is not a member of the ICC, Republican and Democratic administrations have supported the court in specific cases, and the US government has assisted with the arrest of suspects wanted by the court. The Biden administration has recognized the court’s essential role in addressing serious international crimes in Ukraine and in Darfur, Sudan. 

In the May 22 letter to the White House, the groups urged 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 of threatening judges and independent judicial institutions,” the groups said in their letter. 

President Biden should “oppose any legislative efforts to undermine the ICC, and to make clear that regardless of its views on specific ICC investigations, the United States continues to support independent international justice mechanisms,” the groups said.

The text of the letter and its signatories is available here

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