President Joe Biden’s nominee for human-rights chief at the State Department has called on the Hague to investigate U.S. armed forces and former Bush administration officials for alleged “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” related to the war on terror, a stance that conflicts with the Biden administration’s stated opposition to the international court probe.
Sarah Margon, Biden’s nominee for assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor, was the Washington, D.C., director for Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the foreign policy director at the Open Society Foundations. She has advocated prosecuting U.S. officials in foreign criminal courts over the CIA’s enhanced interrogation programs and other activities in Afghanistan—a position at odds with the Biden administration’s stance that could draw scrutiny ahead of Margon’s Senate confirmation hearing.
The Hague, also known as the International Criminal Court, launched an investigation last year into U.S. military and government officials for supposed “war crimes of torture and cruel treatment,” prompting the Trump administration to institute sanctions and a visa ban against ICC officials.
The Biden administration lifted the sanctions earlier this month but continues to oppose the ICC’s efforts to prosecute U.S. officials.
“We continue to disagree strongly with the ICC’s actions relating to the Afghanistan and Palestinian situations,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in April. “We maintain our longstanding objection to the Court’s efforts to assert jurisdiction over personnel of non-States Parties such as the United States and Israel.”
Margon slammed the sanctions last year while she was working at the Open Society Foundations, arguing for the necessity of the ICC probe.
“It has never been so clear that we need to hold U.S. government officials accountable for their actions. Today’s economic sanctions against the International Criminal Court represent an attack on the institutions that offer hope when governments fail to provide that accountability—as well as a stunning betrayal of some of the best traditions of U.S. foreign policy,” Margon said in a statement.
She also wrote on Twitter that “Visa bans are for war criminals & corrupt individuals, not those trying to uncover & expose their abuse. Shame