On International Justice Day, the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression and 47 league members of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) addressed an open letter to the President of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the International Criminal Court (ICC), urging President Kwon and the ASP to defend the Court’s integrity and independence, as well as its fight against impunity. The letter highlights concern over threats, political pressure and punitive measures against the ICC, exemplified by US President Trump’s recent Executive Order, and the need for international support for the Court as a vital accountability mechanism of last resort, in the fight against impunity
To: Mr. O-Gon Kwon, President of the Assembly of States Parties
Re: Support for the independence, integrity and mandate of the International Criminal Court
Dear President Kwon,
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its 47 undersigned member organisations from every region of the world, urge you, the Assembly of States Parties, and individual Member States, to deploy all necessary means to defend the integrity and independence of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and to meaningfully support its fight against impunity.
We write to you on International Justice Day, which commemorates the adoption of the Court’s founding treaty, a milestone in the international community’s pursuit to end impunity for the most serious crimes, to bring the promise “never again” closer to reality. We are deeply concerned that today, 22 years after States Parties embarked on this endeavour, the first permanent, independent international criminal Court – and with it, the promise of justice for all, including the most vulnerable and marginalised – are under serious threat.
With the Court, its personnel, and groups cooperating with it, including civil society, facing unprecedented and unrelenting attacks, our organisations wish to recall the significance of the Court and its crucial role in global system of international justice, including for victims’ access to justice, redress and reparations.
Our organisations reiterate that the ICC continues to anchor the fight against impunity at the international level, and is a key agent for holding those alleged to bear the greatest responsibility for core international crimes to account before impartial, independent justice and with fair trial guarantees. Since its inception, our Federation and a great number of its member organisations have turned to the ICC as an accountability mechanism of last resort, and brought to it the voices of thousands of victims seeking redress. After losing hard-fought battles for justice before unwilling or unable domestic jurisdictions, victims have been able to turn to the ICC as a final avenue for justice. The Court – empowered and legitimised by its 123 States Parties – has provided the possibility of justice in the face of dictatorships, situations of entrenched impunity, ongoing conflicts and crises, and against political dominance.
Today, the ICC and what it represents as a forum for international justice and a manifestation of global legal order are under profound political pressure, threats and punitive measures. These systematic efforts, as exemplified most dramatically by the recent executive order issued in the United States by Donald Trump, are nothing short of obstruction of justice and must be not only denounced in the strongest terms, but countered with a redoubled effort to ensure that the promise of global justice – and with it, prevention of serious crimes and an end to impunity – is realised through a strong, independent, and fully empowered ICC that has the resources, staff, and cooperation to carry out its mandate.
Our organisations are appalled by the Trump administration’s June 11th Executive Order on Blocking Property of Certain Persons Associated with the International Criminal Court, which promises to punish the ICC and impede its very functioning if the Court does not accept its demand of a de facto system of selective justice. Those challenging longstanding impunity and the ongoing crimes it breeds, from Afghanistan to Palestine, cannot be left undefended against these unwarranted measures – the kind of sanctions usually deployed to punish and deter human rights violators. Equally appalling, if not more so, is the extension of these measures to the family members of said persons.
Without a counterweight from the Assembly and individual Member States, the executive order sets a dangerous precedent where political bullying of justice institutions succeeds, and where justice is only possible when convenient to the world’s reigning superpower.
For these reasons, our organisations urge the Assembly and individual States Parties to uphold the vow of 123 nations to put an end to impunity by creating an international, independent Court mandated to investigate atrocities – whoever the perpetrator – through unwavering support, in both words and concrete actions, to the Court, its personnel, and those cooperating with it, including civil society.
FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights COFADEH – Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (Honduras) CIPRODEH – Centro de Investigación y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (Honduras) CENIDH – Centro Nicaragûense de Derechos Humanos (Nicaragua) CCS – Centro de Capacitación social de Panamá (Panama) CNDH – Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (Dominican Republic) RNDDH – Réseau National de Défense des droits de l’Homme (Haiti) CALDH – Centro de Acción legal en Derechos Humanos (Guatemala) CDHES – Comisión de Derechos Humanos de El Salvador (El Salvador ) LIMEDDH – Liga Mexicana por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (Mexico) CMDPDH – Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (Mexico) APRODEH – Asociación pro Derechos Humanos (Peru) CEDAL – Centro de Derechos y Desarrollo (Peru) CAJAR – Colective de abogados José Alvear Restrepo (Colombia) PROVEA – Programa Venezolano de Eduación – Acción en Derechos Humanos (Venezuela) Observatorio Cuidadano (Chile) CAJ – Comité de Acción Jurídica (Argentina) Justiça Global (Brazil) MNDH – Movimento Nacional de Direitos Humanos (Brazil) Acción Ecológica (Ecuador) CEDHU – Comisión Ecuménica de Derechos Humanos (Ecuador) CCR – Center for Constitutional Rights (United States of America) CJA – Center for Justice and Accountability (United States of America) RADDHO – Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (Senegal) DITSHWANELO – Botswana Centre for Human Rights (Botswana) Legal and Human Rights Centre Tanzania (Tanzania) Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (Uganda) KHRC – Kenya Human Rights Commission (Kenya) ZimRights – Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimbabwe) Lawyers for Human Rights (South Africa) MBDHP – Mouvement Burkinabè des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples (Burkina Faso) LTDH – Ligue Tunisienne pour la défense des droits de l’Homme (Tunisia) OMDH – Organisation Marocaine des Droits Humains (Morocco) CIHRS – Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (Egypt) SAF – Sisters’ Arab Forum for Human Rights (Yemen) SCM – Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of expression (Syria) OPEN ASIA|Armanshhar Foundation (Afghanistan) Odhikar (Bangladesh) Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Palestine) Al Haq (Palestine) PCHR – Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (Palestine) RCHRS – Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies (Palestine) Human Rights Center (Georgia) Committee on the Administration of Justice – CAJ (Ireland) Liga Portuguesa dos Direitos Humanos – Civitas (Portugal) Albanian Human Rights Group (Albania) B’tselem (Israel) Liga voor de Rechten van de Mens (Netherlands)