Over the course of my 40 years practicing international law, I’ve had some experience working in countries where the rule of law is painfully absent or impaired, and yet, today I note with sadness that we are witnessing a similar erosion of integrity taking place in the United States.
Below we are publishing the full text of an open letter addressed to Professor Robert Goldman, the President of the International Commission of Jurists with copy to US Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin and US Attorney General William Barr regarding the alarmingly broad language applied to the sanctions ordered against Reinaldo Enrique Muñoz Pedroza, the Solicitor General of Venezuela, which includes implied threats against legal counsel and courts.
While I have always felt that the extraterritorial nature of US law was dangerous from the standpoint of comity, I never imagined that our own government would engage in thuggish practices in an attempt to intimidate both the appointed law firms and attorneys and the international tribunals that they may come before.
Although the letter below is narrowly focused on specific activities, there appears to be a larger pattern of the misuse of sanctions regimes by the US government, in particular the recent sanctioning of prosecutors merely for performing their professional duties for the International Criminal Court (ICC). Truly the United States is moving away from being a “City on a Hill” to a fortress of instrumentalized legal chauvanism, without any consideration for the reckless precedent these measures set for future American interests.
After November, whoever wins, there needs to be a dramatic reassessment of Washington’s attempts at regime change in this part of the world, and a concerted effort not only to restore respect for rule of law but also to engage in constructive policies that bring all sides together and deal with addressing humanitarian crises.