Israel/Gaza: threats against the ICC promote a culture of impunity, UN experts criticize

Israel/Gaza: threats against the ICC promote a culture of impunity, UN experts criticize
Israel/Gaza: threats against the ICC promote a culture of impunity, UN experts criticize

“At a time when the world should come together to end the terrible bloodshed in Gaza and seek justice for those unlawfully killed, injured, traumatized or taken hostage since October 7, it is distressing to see “state representatives threaten to take retaliatory measures against a Court that pursues international justice,” these experts said in a joint statement.

Threats of reprisals

It is shocking to see countries that consider themselves champions of the rule of law attempting to intimidate an independent and impartial international tribunal to prevent accountability

On Friday, May 4, the Office of the Prosecutor denounced statements that “threaten to take retaliatory measures against the Court or against Court personnel” for actions taken by the Prosecutor. The Office of the Prosecutor’s statement reminds all individuals that threats of reprisals may constitute an offense against the administration of justice under article 70 of the Rome Statute.

“It is shocking to see countries that consider themselves champions of the rule of law attempting to intimidate an independent and impartial international tribunal to prevent accountability,” the experts said.

“Threats of reprisals violate human rights standards relating to attacks on judicial personnel and exceed accepted limits of freedom of expression. We call on all States to respect the independence of the Court as a judicial institution and to protect the independence and impartiality of those who work within the Court,” the human rights defenders added.

Essential ethical behavior and attitude

The experts recalled that politicians and civil servants play an important role in shaping the media agenda, public debate and opinion. Therefore, ethical behavior and attitude on their part, including in their public communications, are essential to promote the rule of law, the protection of human rights and public confidence in democratic systems of governance, they warned.

In recent weeks, authorities in the United States and Israel have made inflammatory statements about the ICC, calling the Prosecutor’s potential actions “lawless,” “shameful,” and any potential mandate ” scandalous aggression” and “abomination”.

These comments have persisted for more than a week, amid reports that U.S. Congressional leaders are preparing possible retaliatory measures, including sanctions against individuals who work for the court and efforts to reduce the financing of the ICC, if arrest warrants are issued against Israeli officials, and the Israeli Finance Minister threatens to also withhold funds intended for the Palestinian Authority.

Karim Khan, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (file photo).

The ICC investigates

The experts recalled that the ICC has the mandate to investigate and prosecute individuals for serious international crimes such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The judges of the Court authorized the ICC Prosecutor to investigate crimes committed in the territory of the State of Palestine since 2014 by any individual – whether Palestinian, Israeli or of another nationality – and on all crimes of this type committed by Palestinian nationals, including those that took place inside Israel. The ICC Prosecutor said her ongoing investigation includes recent events in the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank.

“The majority of countries in the world support the Court,” the experts said. “The role of the ICC is more crucial than ever. Obstructing the work of the Court and its Prosecutor would be detrimental, not only to accountability in the occupied Palestinian territories, but also to international justice as a whole.”

Experts have reached out to Israel and the United States over these concerns.

*The experts who agree with this statement are :
Margaret Satterthwaite, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; Francesca Albanese, United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967; Ben Saul, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the fight against terrorism; Cecilia M Bailliet, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity; Siobhán Mullally, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in human beings, especially women and children; Paula Gaviria Betancur, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons; Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; George Katrougalos, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order; Bernard Duhaime, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition; Marcos A. Orellana, Special Rapporteur on the human rights implications of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes; Gina Romero, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association; Ashwini KP, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; Graeme Reid, Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; Surya Deva, special rapporteur on the right to development; Aua Baldé (president-rapporteur), Gabriella Citroni (vice-president), Angkhana Neelapaijit, Grażyna Baranowska, Ana Lorena Delgadillo Pérez, working group on enforced or involuntary disappearances; Tomoya Obokata, special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including their causes and consequences; Astrid Puentes, special rapporteur on the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment; Farida Shaheed, special rapporteur on the right to education; Michael Fakhri, special rapporteur on the right to food; Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, special rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation; Dorothy Estrada Tanck (Chair), Claudia Flores, Ivana Krstić, Haina Lu, and Laura Nyirinkindi (Vice-Chair), Working Group on Discrimination Against Women and Girls; Jose Francisco Calí Tzay, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples; Nicolas Levrat, Special Rapporteur on minority issues; Alexandra Xanthaki, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights; Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Balakrishan Rajagopal, Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing; Richard Bennett, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan; Matthew Gillett (rapporteur chair), Priya Gopalan (vice chair for monitoring), Miriam Estrada-Castillo and Mumba Malila, working group on arbitrary detention; Reem Alsalem, Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences; Barbara G. Reynolds (Chair), Bina D’Costa, Dominique Day, Expert Working Group on People of African Descent; Olivier De Schutter, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; Anaïs Marin, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus.

NOTE :

The experts are part of the special procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest group of independent experts in the United Nations human rights system, is the general name for the Council’s independent investigative and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific national situations or issues themes in all parts of the world. Special procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive salaries for their work. They are independent of any government or organization and work in their individual capacity.

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