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Canada among 67 nations to reaffirm International Criminal Court support after U.S. sanctions

More than half of the member states of the International Criminal Court on Tuesday defended the world’s only permanent war crimes tribunal in a diplomatic response to a U.S. threat of sanctions against its employees earlier this month.

A joint statement drafted by Costa Rica and Switzerland was backed by 67 out of 123 of the ICC’s members.

“As parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal court we reconfirm our unwavering support for the court as an independent and impartial judicial institution,” it said.

A tweet from the Switzerland delegation indicated that Canada was among the 67 nations.

Washington opposes the ICC because it fears politically motivated prosecutions of the United States and ally Israel.

Pompeo derided ICC as a ‘kangaroo court’

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order two weeks ago authorizing the blocking of assets and travel restrictions against ICC employees involved in a probe into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan, also by U.S. forces.

In announcing the executive order signed by Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “We cannot, we will not stand by as our people are threatened by a kangaroo court.”

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wants to investigate possible crimes committed between 2003 and 2014, including alleged mass killings of civilians by the Taliban, as well as the alleged torture of prisoners by Afghan authorities and, to a lesser extent, by U.S. forces and the CIA. The ICC investigation was given the go-ahead in March.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said last week in a social media post that Canada supported the ICC “and its crucial role within the multilateral system, fighting impunity by investigating and prosecuting the most serious international crimes.”

“Personnel of the International Criminal Court should not be singled out for their work,” said Champagne.

The letter from more than 60 ICC members marks the first effort to show a united front among members from all continents.

In the statement the countries stressed that the court is an “integral part” of the judicial international order and “a central institution in the fight against impunity.”

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