ACLU Demands Trump Administration Release Documents Justifying Threats Against ICC Judges and Prosecutors

NEW YORK, Sept. 24, 2018 — The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a Freedom of Information Act request demanding the Trump administration release all documents concerning the United States’ new policy towards the International Criminal Court (ICC), as described in National Security Advisor John Bolton’s speech before the Federalist Society on September 10.

Speaking about the ICC, Bolton stated, “We will ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the United States. We will sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system, and we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system. We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans.”

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The ACLU argues that the Trump administration lacks the legal authority to follow through on such threats and is asking the State Department and Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel to provide all documents detailing any legal analysis offered to justify sanctioning ICC staff.

“Donald Trump and John Bolton’s disdain for human rights and international law is abundantly clear, but any explanation of how they plan to follow through on their dangerous and unprecedented threats against the ICC remains strikingly lacking,” said Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program. “That’s likely because the government doesn’t have the legal authority to prosecute and sanction ICC judges and prosecutors, and any documents purporting to say it does won’t hold up in court. The Trump administration would be wise to withdraw its hollow threats and reconsider its misguided policy.”

A coalition of international human rights and civil liberties groups, including the ACLU, International Service for Human Rights, and Internal Commission of Jurists, also wrote to the United Nations today calling on the international body to take urgent action in response to “explicit and concrete threats” made by Bolton against the ICC.

“The Trump administration’s fear-mongering tactics are an attempt to thwart an impending investigation into the United States possible war crimes, and the United Nations shouldn’t let them go unchecked,” added Dakwar. “This latest attack on multilateral institutions puts the U.S. squarely in the company of some of the worst human rights abusers, and provides support to others intent on undermining the court and ignoring its authority.”

In a blog post ahead of President Trump’s second appearance at the annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly, the ACLU details the five ways the Trump administration has attacked the United Nations and International Human Rights Bodies. The blog post can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/blog/human-rights/five-ways-trump-administration-has-attacked-un-and-international-human-rights.

The ACLU’s FOIA request can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/foia-request-trump-administration-threats-sanction-international-criminal-court-and-prosecute-court.

The coalition letter can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/coalition-letter-urging-un-act-trump-administrations-intimidation-and-threat-reprisal.