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article imageICC members back court, but urge it to speed up work

By AFP     Dec 5, 2018 in World

Countries signed up to the International Criminal Court renewed their backing Wednesday for the embattled global legal body, targeted by the Trump administration, but urged the ICC to speed up its work.

"The European Union strongly supports the International Criminal Court and its work as an independent and impartial judicial institution," said Heidemaria Guerer at the annual meeting of the court's 123 member states in The Hague.

"We believed that in a time that the rules-based international order is facing increased pressure, the strengthening of the international criminal justice system is an imperative," she said, speaking on behalf of the continental bloc.

Other countries including those in Africa where the ICC is active, such as Nigeria and Uganda, also pledged continued support.

This year the ICC is celebrating 20 years since its founding mandate, the Rome Statute, was agreed upon by states in Rome in 1998 to prosecute the world's worst crimes.

But the court has since come under attack by some African states, who have accused it of being biaised, and more recently by US President Donald Trump and White House National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Trump in September accused the ICC of lacking any legitimacy, saying it violated "all principles of justice" and that it had no authority.

In the same month, Bolton threatened to arrest ICC judges and officials if they moved against Israel and the United States -- neither of whom are members of the ICC but who are under scrutiny by the court's prosecutors.

ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has launched a preliminary probe of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in war-ravaged Afghanistan -- including by US service members.

Her office is also conducting an initial investigation into similar alleged crimes committed in Israel and the Palestinian territories in the wake of the Gaza war.

Without referring to any specific country, Britain's delegate Andrew Murdoch said Wednesday "the court has many critics... Some of their criticism is strident and in our judgement misplaced".

But as a member state that supported the ICC "we also speak plainly about the concerns we have," he said.

Murdoch urged the court to speed up its work including its investigations and trials.

"After 20 years and 1.5 billion euros spent, we have only three core crime convictions," by the ICC, Murdoch told delegates.

The ICC has secured convictions in three cases for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Mali and in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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