THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – More than half of the member states of the International Criminal Court expressed support for the institution in a vigorously formulated statement issued Tuesday following the Trump administration’s decision to impose sanctions on judicial personnel to allow.
The 67 countries, including US allies such as Australia, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, said in the joint statement that they affirmed “our unwavering support for the Court as an independent and impartial judicial institution”.
Participating countries also reiterated their commitment to protect the integrity of the Court of Auditors “without being put off by measures or threats against the Court of Auditors, its officials and those who cooperate with them”.
On June 11, President Donald Trump approved economic and travel sanctions against workers from the International Criminal Court who were investigating troops and intelligence officials from the United States and Allied countries, including Israel, for possible war crimes in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The Hague-based court was established in 2002 to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in countries where the authorities cannot or do not want to try the perpetrators. The US has never been a member of ICC.
Human Rights Watch welcomed the promise of support from other Member States.
“This statement is very important because ICC member states worldwide, including the major .US allies, speak out in defense of the courts and their independence,” said Richard Dicker, director of international justice at Human Rights Watch. “It sends the crucial message that ICC states ‘have the back of the court’ and that they will not be alarmed in their commitment to seeing justice for crimes against humanity and war crimes.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced the tribunal as a “kangaroo court” who was unsuccessful and inefficient in his mandate to prosecute war crimes. He said the US would punish ICC workers for any investigation or prosecution of Americans in Afghanistan. The judicial staff could also be banned from the US for prosecuting the Israelis for alleged abuse against Palestinians, he said.
“It gives us no joy to punish them,” said Pompeo. “But we cannot allow ICC officials and their families to come to the United States to shop and travel and otherwise enjoy the freedoms of the United States, as those same officials seek to sue the defender of those same freedoms.”
Last year, Pompeo revoked the visa of the chief prosecutor of the court, Fatou Bensouda, after asking ICC judges to investigate alleged war crimes in Afghanistan. The judges initially dismissed the request, but Bensouda appealed and the court approved the investigation in March.
That ruling was the first time the court prosecutor had been allowed to investigate U.S. troops. The case concerns allegations of war crimes committed by Afghan national security forces, Taliban and Haqqani network fighters, and by US troops and intelligence officials in Afghanistan since May 2003.
Bensouda has said there is information that members of the United States military and intelligence agencies “have committed torture, cruelty, and revenge on personal dignity, rape, and sexual assault.”
The 67 countries that signed Tuesday’s statement called the court “an essential part of the multilateral architecture that upholds the rule of law. It embodies our collective commitment to fighting impunity for international crimes. ”
They said that by giving their full support to the court, “we are defending the progress we have made together towards an international rules-based order, of which international justice is an indispensable pillar.”
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