June 11, 2020

US threatens sanctions against ICC officials who investigate US military and personnel

On June 11, 2020, President Trump signed an Executive Order, “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Associated With The International Criminal Court,” in response to the ICC’s attempts to investigate certain US military and intelligence personnel for actions in Afghanistan.  The Executive Order asserts that the ICC’s investigations are improper because US is not a party to the Rome Statue, and is not subject to the ICC’s jurisdiction, and furthermore, the US expressly rejected the ICC’s jurisdiction over it in 2002 with the enactment of the American Service-Members’ Protection Act (22 USC 7421 et seq.).  

According to the Order, any attempt by the ICC to investigate current and former US government officials may subject them to harassment, abuse and possible arrest, and is considered a threat to US national security and foreign policy, and the President has declared a national emergency to deal with this threat.  Consequently, any offending ICC employees and agents and their immediate family members may be suspended from entering the US. In addition, any attempt by an ICC official to investigate, arrest or detain US personnel without consent will result in the blocking of that individual’s US property interests.  

In a related statement,  US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, US Attorney General William Barr, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien spoke in favor of the Executive Order.  Pompeo explained that designations of ICC officials who engage in investigations of US personal or allied personnel, will be made on a case-by-case basis, and confirmed that the US has expanded visa restrictions to include offending ICC officials and their families. Esper and O’Brien reiterated that the US is not a party to the Rome Statute that created the ICC, and has never accepted its jurisdiction over the US.  And according to Barr, the US in concerned that the ICC is being manipulated by foreign powers to advance its own political agenda, and emphasized that the US Department of Justice fully supports and commits to the enforcement of the sanctions imposed in the order.

Executive Order | US Govt statement