End Impunity and Open Investigation on Palestine

The object, as affirmed by the Rome Statute is therefore to ensure “that the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole must not go unpunished and that their effective prosecution must be ensured by taking measures at the national level and by enhancing international cooperation”.

Al-Hag  September 17, 2018 7:06

END IMPUNITY AND OPEN INVESTIGATION ON PALESTINE

Dear Madam Prosecutor,

Today, on 17 September 2018,  25 civil society organisations including coalitions urge you to urgently open an investigation into the Situation in Palestine. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is the only viable independent judicial body capable of ending impunity for crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory and effectively deterring the commission of future crimes.

Almost four years have passed since the opening of the preliminary examination into the Situation in Palestine at the ICC, following the submission of an article 12(3) declaration that allows you to hold to account individuals for the commission of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in the occupied Palestinian territory, including during the 2014 military offensive on the Gaza Strip when 1,600 Palestinian civilians were killed.

Since the opening of the examination, more than 550 Palestinians have been killed and tens of thousands of Palestinians have been injured by Israeli forces. Israel has indefensibly and willfully killed unarmed Palestinian protesters in increasing numbers in the context of the 2018 Great Return March demonstrations in the occupied Gaza Strip, during which Palestinians demand that their right to return to their homes be fulfilled and that the closure on the Gaza Strip be lifted. Palestinians protesting Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem and related policies of settler transfer into the city were also killed at an alarming rate by Israeli forces in 2014-2015. Israel has also accelerated its transfer of Israeli civilians into the occupied Palestinian territory, and appropriated significant and extensive swaths of Palestinian land to pave way for the merging of settlements with Israel while dividing Palestinian families and communities. The appropriation and destruction of Palestinian property has resulted in the displacement of thousands of Palestinians since 2015. Orders given to completely destroy the Khan Al-Ahmar community will be implemented at any moment, resulting in the forcible transfer of its 180 residents.

The situation in the occupied Gaza Strip is dire due to Israel’s imposition of the unlawful closure that denies Palestinians’ freedom of movement and access to basic life-sustaining services. We are quickly approaching year 2020 which represents, according to the United Nations, the predicted moment in time when the Gaza Strip will become uninhabitable.

The situation in Palestine is rapidly deteriorating and war crimes and crimes against humanity are allegedly frequently committed to entrench Israeli control over Palestinian territory and the Palestinian people. This year marked 51 years since the beginning of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory and so far it has been characterized by complete impunity. There is no domestic mechanism capable of or willing to investigate, prosecute and convict perpetrators, including high-level officials of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Neither is there a willingness to put in place such a mechanism. To the contrary, in August 2018, an Israeli court, for the first time, legitimized an Israeli settlement constructed on appropriated Palestinian land. That same month, the Israeli military investigation mechanism closed files on ‘Black Friday’ killings; over a period of 4 days, Israeli armed forces killed more than 200 Palestinian civilians in Rafah.

The occupation of the Palestinian territory may be one of the most well-documented situations, with a long list of eminent United Nations experts, inquiries and missions having issued lengthy reports alleging that international crimes have been committed and that violations of international humanitarian and human rights law have occurred.

In order to effectively respond to the most serious situations worldwide and offer a real opportunity for victims to receive redress, the ICC must speed up its processes and immediately open an investigation into the situation in Palestine. The grave situation in Palestine demands that the Prosecutor moves into the stage of investigation. It is now, more than ever before, crucial that the ICC remains loyal to the Rome Statute which speaks of the end of impunity, as well as stands up for all victims of the most horrendous crimes.

Yours Sincerely,

Al-Haq

Aldameer Association for Human Rights

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights

Addameer

Association Belgo-Palestinienne WB

Article 1 Collective

BADIL

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

Center for Constitutional Rights

CNCD-11.11.11

Defense for Children International – Palestine

EuroMed Rights

FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights)

Hurryat – Center for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights

Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center

Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights

Ligue des droits de L’Homme

Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies

The Independent Commission for Human Rights

The Rights Forum

Trocaire

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

Palestine Solidariteit

Vrede

Al-Haq Reaffirms its Support of the ICC and Condemns Attempts to Infringe on its Independence and Punish the PLO

Al-Hag  September 17, 2018 08:46 Date: 9/13/2018

Al-Haq Reaffirms its Support of the ICC and Condemns Attempts to Infringe on its Independence and Punish the PLO

On 10 September 2018, the United States National Security Advisor John Bolton, in an address to the Federalist Society on “Protecting American Constitutionalism and Sovereignty from International Threats”, launched a reprehensible attack against the International Criminal Court (ICC). Bolton also announced the closure of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) office in Washington D.C. in response to “Congressional concerns with Palestinian attempts to prompt an ICC investigation of Israel”. Al-Haq condemns the closing of the PLO office as a punitive measure aimed at ensuring that the State of Palestine does not pursue accountability through the ICC.

Bolton outlined a series of steps that the U.S. intends to take in the event that the ICC “comes after us [the United States], Israel or other U.S. allies”. The steps include banning ICC and its personnel, such as its judges and prosecutors, and any company or state that assists an ICC investigation on Americans, from entering the U.S., freezing their funds in the country, and prosecuting them in the U.S. national system. Bolton also stated that the U.S. will use the UN Security Council to constrain the ICC and negotiate bilateral agreements with states to ensure that U.S. persons are not surrendered to the court. The proposed bilateral agreements are essentially a follow-on, from the dubious Article 98(2) agreements concluded during the Bush era, which have been widely criticised.[1]

Al-Haq is alarmed by the statement delivered by Bolton which reflects the current U.S. Administration’s intention to derail and delegitimise the ICC and constitutes a direct attack on the independence of the Prosecutor and the judiciary. The ICC currently enjoys the support of 123 States Parties that have willingly submitted themselves to it with the aim to end impunity. The ICC Prosecutor’s examinations into the situations in Afghanistan and Palestine are carried out within the remit of the powers granted to the Prosecutor.

According to customary international law, that is binding on all States including the United State and Israel, “States must investigate war crimes allegedly committed by their nationals or armed forces, or on their territory, and, if appropriate, prosecute the suspects. They must also investigate other war crimes over which they have jurisdiction and, if appropriate, prosecute the suspects.” The ICC, as a court of last resort, will therefore not step in and exercise jurisdiction in the event that a state fulfills its obligations. The object, as affirmed by the Rome Statute is therefore to ensure “that the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole must not go unpunished and that their effective prosecution must be ensured by taking measures at the national level and by enhancing international cooperation”. In relation to the Situation in Palestine, Israel is unwilling and unable to investigate and prosecute, in particular high-level, Israeli military and civilian officials for the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Al-Haq would also like to draw attention to the impact of the Bolton statement on human rights defenders; the United Nations Secretary-General recently warned of the alarming scope and effect of reprisals against activists and human rights defenders.[2] U.S. threats to ban, prosecute, and freeze the funds of companies assisting the ICC in an investigation in relation to Americans could further stigmatise and inhibit much-needed critical human rights defenders from carrying out their important work and may infringe on their rights to freedom of association and expression.

Al-Haq reaffirms its support of the ICC, and urges the international community to defend the independence of the ICC, the work of individuals and organisations pursuing accountability, and the notions of equality before the law and accountability. Bolton’s statement is testimony to the success of the ICC to hold individuals to account for the commission of Rome Statute crimes – regardless of their nationality or status.

[1] P.M. Wald, “Is the United States’ Opposition to the ICC Intractable?”, Journal of International Criminal Justice 2 (2004), 19 et seq; Amnesty International, “International Criminal Court: US efforts to obtain impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes”, August 2002, available at <http://web.amnesty.org/aidoc/aidoc_pdf.nsf/ Index/IOR400252002ENGLISH/$File/IOR4002502.pdf>

[2] United Nations Secretary-General, Cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights”, 13 August 2018, available at: https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G18/247/10/PDF/G1824710.pdf?OpenElement

Al-Haq, Defending Human Rights in Palestine Since 1979. Al-Haq is an independent Palestinian non-governmental human rights organisation based in Ramallah, West Bank. Established in 1979 to protect and promote human rights and the rule of law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), the organisation has special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

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