Court blocks Trump’s decision to impose sanctions on human rights defenders

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On Monday, a court barred the Trump administration from sanctioning human rights lawyers for supporting the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigating war crimes

A district judge issued a preliminary injunction against the White House’s decision to impose criminal or civil sanctions against four law professors in accordance with President Donald Trump’s decree last June.

Trump has imposed a series of sanctions against the staff of the ICC, based in The Hague, and everyone who supports his work, including the investigation of possible war crimes in Afghanistan by US military personnel.

The judge said the plaintiffs are likely to be able to prove that Trump’s executive order violated their constitutional right to free speech, resulting in irreparable damage.

“The court takes into account the government’s interest in protecting its foreign policy prerogatives and maximizing the effectiveness of its political instruments,” the judge wrote in the explanatory part of the ruling. “However, national security considerations should not become a talisman used to defend against inconvenient lawsuits.”

A spokesman for the US Department of Justice declined to comment.

The lawsuit was filed by the New York-based human rights organization Open Society Justice Initiative and professors.

James Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, has called on the new Biden administration to reverse Trump’s decree, which he says is “in direct opposition to Washington’s historic support for international justice.”

White House administration officials accused the ICC of infringing on US sovereignty.

In September, the US administration imposed sanctions on ICC Attorney General Fata Bensuda. Her investigation also concerns possible war crimes committed by the Taliban and the Afghan authorities.

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