Victims in Palestine Afghanistan, and Victims of U.S. Torture Deserve Justice Without Delay
April 2, 2021, New York – In response to the Biden administration’s revocation of a Trump-era Executive Order and sanctions against International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and senior aide Phakiso Mochochoko, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement:
Trump’s sanctions set a dangerous precedent for attacks on victims, lawyers, human rights advocates, and courts, and Biden’s repeal is a welcome – if overdue – step toward curtailing U.S. obstruction of accountability at the International Criminal Court for the most serious crimes. Prosecutor Bensouda righty moved to open an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Palestine and Afghanistan, including of U.S. torture, because grave and widespread crimes against civilians in both situations had gone unpunished. Both the United States and Israel had the opportunity to investigate and hold their own citizens accountable for international crimes – and failed to do so. Victims have the right to turn to the ICC as a court of last resort to end impunity. These investigations must now proceed expeditiously.
With the odious Executive Order rescinded, the United States has an opportunity to reset its relationship with the ICC – and justice issues more broadly. It can demonstrate that its pledge to “stand against human rights abuses wherever they occur, regardless of whether the perpetrators are adversaries or partners” is more than just rhetoric. To do so, it must cease efforts to undercut the independence of the ICC, whether through direct threats or punishments on those seeking justice, or through proxies seeking to exercise influence over the court’s docket through decisions about its budget. It must affirmatively support victims and their advocates and denounce smear campaigns against them. And it must cease speaking of “peace” and “justice” as binary choices rather than mutually reinforcing principles.
The last four years were marked by utter disregard for human rights and the rule of law. To turn that page, the United States must finally make good on the mantra that “no one is above the law” by allowing long overdue justice efforts against the powerful, including U.S. and Israeli citizens, at the ICC to proceed. Victims deserve justice without further delay.
The Center for Constitutional Rights represents victims in both the ICC investigation into the Situation in Afghanistan, which includes investigation of U.S. torture in Afghanistan and CIA blacksites/proxy detention on ICC Member States’ territory, and the Situation in Palestine.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.