ICC lacks jurisdiction to investigate Palestine war crimes claims: prosecutor

[JURIST] The Office of Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official websites] said Tuesday that the ICC lacks jurisdiction [text, PDF] to investigate allegations of crimes committed in Palestine during the 2008-2009 Gaza conflict [JURIST news archive]. After considering arguments from both sides [list of submissions] as to whether the Office of the Prosecutor could proceed with the investigations, the Office determined that Palestine is not a state within the meaning of Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute [text]:

In interpreting and applying article 12 of the Rome Statute, the Office has assessed that it is for the relevant bodies at the United Nations or the Assembly of States Parties to make the legal determination whether Palestine qualifies as a State for the purpose of acceding to the Rome Statute and thereby enabling the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court under article 12(1). The Rome Statute provides no authority for the Office of the Prosecutor to adopt a method to define the term "State" under article 12(3) which would be at variance with that established for the purpose of article 12(1).
The Office stated that the current status granted to Palestine by the UN General Assembly [official website] is that of "observer," not as a "Non-member State." Therefore, the Office of Prosecutor concluded that the investigation into the alleged crimes is beyond its jurisdiction. It further noted that it would have such jurisdiction if the UN or the Assembly of States Parties resolves the issue of whether Palestine is a "state" within the meaning of article 12 or the Security Council, in accordance with article 13(b) [text], makes a referral providing jurisdiction to the ICC. In 2009, Palestine, through its Minister of Justice, submitted the Declaration recognizing the Jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court [text, PDF] to allow the ICC to investigate into the alleged crimes against Palestinians.

The tension and problems arising out of the Gaza conflict is still ongoing. In February Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged Israel to change [JURIST report] its policies of forbidding Palestinians from traveling through and living in Gaza and the West Bank. Its report demonstrated that due to the policies, families are kept separate since some are trapped inside Israel while their family members are forbidden from entering. In January of last year, UN officials alleged [JURIST report] that Israeli authorities engaged in illegal activities including the killing of four Palestinians. In 2010, Israeli Ambassador to the UN called for an end [JURIST report] to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] investigation into Israeli actions during the 2008-2009 Gaza campaign. Early in 2010, the UN extended [JURIST report] the time limit for Israelis and Palestinians to finish their investigation into alleged human rights violation committed during the Gaza conflict after it initially adopted a resolution [JURIST report] giving them three months. In 2009, the UN found evidence [JURIST report] that both parties committed war crimes.

 

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