The ICC: Is it prosecuting Palestinian victims instead of Israel?

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Afrasianet - Laila Nicola  - Despite the world's bet on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to bring justice to victims, the Court's work has long been politicized and clearly discriminated against perpetrators.

Five ICC states parties (Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros, and Djibouti) have submitted a request to investigate the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, with which the court has begun an investigation into Israeli crimes committed in the Gaza Strip since October 7, noting that the court had previously opened an investigation in 2021 into the situation in Palestine, from which no results have yet emerged.

According to the 1998 Rome Statute, "any State Party may refer to the Prosecutor a situation in which one or more crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court appear to have been committed, and request the Prosecutor to investigate the case for the purpose of determining whether one or more specific persons should be charged with such crimes".

At the invitation of Israeli families, the ICC announced that Prosecutor Karim Khan had traveled to Israel "at the request and invitation" of survivors and families of those killed in the October attack, and explained that the visit "is not of an investigative nature," but "represents an important opportunity to express sympathy for all victims and start a dialogue."

Indeed, Karim Khan has visited Israel and Ramallah, issuing a statement that is mildly biased towards Israel and raises concern about the politicization of international justice.  We include these observations on the statement:

Karim Khan pledges to the families of "the Israeli victims of the October 7 attack" that the court "stands ready to work in partnership with them to hold those responsible to account," and reassures the Israeli authorities that his work and visit "will not prejudice Israel's position on jurisdiction, as a state not party to the Rome Statute."

The statement assures the Israeli authorities that the Court is committed to the principle of "complementarity", a principle enshrined in the Court's statute, and notes that national criminal jurisdiction takes precedence over the ICC's jurisdiction over international crimes, and therefore the primary responsibility, which is to investigate and prosecute crimes within the Court's jurisdiction, lies with the national judicial bodies, which are the Israeli authorities here.

On this basis, it can be noted that Karim Khan reassured Israel early on that his action would not prejudice Israel's right to reject the court's ruling or jurisdiction, and its refusal to surrender any of its citizens to trial for war crimes committed in the Palestinian territories.

In his statement, the prosecutor described the Palestinian organizations as "terrorist groups," although the court's statute makes no reference to "terrorism" crimes.

The jurisdiction of the ICC is limited to crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. The first three crimes and their legal elements in the Tribunal's statute have been defined in detail.

As for the crime of aggression, it remained undefined.  The final version of the Rome Statute was devoid of any definition of the crime of aggression, until the General Assembly of the International Criminal Court held a conference in Kampala, Uganda, in 2010, and approved the amendment to the Rome Statute, and introduced the definition of aggression, provided that this amendment enters into force only after the majority of States agree to it.

In describing Israeli civilian victims, Khan spoke of "innocent Israeli civilians," while the term "innocent" was absent from the description of Palestinian civilians, the crimes committed against them were absent, and their case was summarized as "suffering" rather than international crimes committed against them.

The prosecutor identified what Palestinians committed on October 7 against "innocent Israeli civilians" as "crimes within the court's jurisdiction" (although the visit is "not of an investigative nature," as stated in the court's statement issued before it), but never referred to Israel's actions against Palestinian civilians as "international crimes" that fall within the court's jurisdiction, and did not characterize them as crimes.

Speaking  of Israelis, Khan said in his statement: "The attacks against 'innocent' Israeli civilians on October 7 represent some of the most serious international crimes that shock the conscience of humanity, crimes that the International Criminal Court was created to address."

The literal text on Palestinians read: "I also spoke to the families of the Palestinian victims and was grateful to hear such personal accounts f their experiences in Gaza and the West Bank. We must never succumb to such suffering."

As a result, despite the world's bet on the International Criminal Court to achieve justice for victims, the court's work since time has long been marred by politicization and dealing with clear discrimination between the perpetrators of crimes, as it is blind to the crimes committed by the West, while its work is concentrated in poor countries. It was once described as the "Court of Africa," and African leaders accused it of being a kind of cover for the interference of major powers in African affairs.

©2024 Afrasia Net - All Rights Reserved Developed by : SoftPages Technology