WASHINGTON — President Trump’s national security advisor, John R. Bolton, today delivered remarks before the Federalist Society. Speaking about the International Criminal Court, 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.”

Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Human Rights Program, issued the following statement in response:

“The Trump administration’s threat to criminally prosecute and sanction International Criminal Court judges and prosecutors is straight out of an authoritarian playbook. The unprecedented threat comes as U.S. officials face, for the first time, the specter of full criminal investigation by the court for possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, which is an ICC member. This misguided and harmful policy will only further isolate the United States from its closest allies and give solace to war criminals and authoritarian regimes seeking to evade international accountability. The Trump administration’s unwavering campaign to undermine universal human rights must be strongly resisted to avoid further damage to the institutions that were created to protect human dignity and fight impunity.”

After a decade of collecting evidence, the International Criminal Court announced last year that it will take steps toward a full investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed over the course of the armed conflict in Afghanistan since May 2003. If the investigation proceeds, ACLU clients Khaled El Masri, Suleiman Salim, and Mohamed Ben Soud — all of whom were detained and tortured in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2008 — could participate in the legal proceedings as victims and witnesses.

Additional information about the proceedings can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/torture/us-gave-its-torturers-pass-so-international-court-steps

More analysis from Dakwar on Bolton’s ICC remarks is here: https://www.aclu.org/blog/human-rights/human-rights-and-national-security/trump-administration-threatens-international

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