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September 17, 2020

Statement of ABA President Patricia Lee Refo Re: U.S. sanctions on International Criminal Court staff

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2020 – The American Bar Association condemns the imposition of punitive travel and economic sanctions against the International Criminal Court prosecutor and another senior ICC staff member, announced on Sept. 2, by the U.S. Secretary of State.  

These unwarranted U.S. sanctions against court personnel could have severe consequences not only for ICC officials and staff, but also for the diverse groups of victims and legal professionals who contribute to the court’s work. As they seek accountability for some of the world’s most serious crimes, they too could face penalties for “materially assisting” the professional efforts of the ICC. Sanctioning legal professionals for their investigating and prosecuting allegations of atrocity crimes on behalf of an independent judicial institution is an act of intimidation and attack on the rule of law.   

The ABA urges nations to protect the independence of the ICC and condemns the use of threats and sanctions by any government against court officials, staff and supporters. The ABA further asks the U.S. administration to reverse this decision immediately and cease punitive measures against the ICC’s personnel.  

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews