ICC receives Palestine referral from Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros, Djibouti and South Africa News
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ICC receives Palestine referral from Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros, Djibouti and South Africa

The International Criminal Court (ICC) released a statement on Friday saying it received a referral from Bangladesh, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Comoros, Djibouti and South Africa regarding the Situation in the State of Palestine. ICC Prosecutor Karim AA Khan KC affirmed that an investigation is currently ongoing with its own dedicated team.

The ICC previously opened their investigation in 2021 covering “crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court that are alleged to have been committed in the Situation since 13 June 2014.” Friday’s statement reaffirms the scope of that investigation, and confirms that it will now encompass any crimes committed during the current Israel-Hamas war that started after Hamas’s October 7 attacks. Khan said on Friday that, “the Office has collected a significant volume of information and evidence, including through submissions received via (a secure platform) to receive submissions.” In response to the initial commencement of the investigation in 2021, Israel’s prime minister said that the ICC’s decision is “undiluted anti-Semitism and the height of hypocrisy” and the country has denied allegations of war crimes in its current siege of Gaza.

The five countries made the ICC referral in accordance with their powers under the Rome Statute. The Rome Statute says that “a 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 requesting the Prosecutor to investigate the situation for the purpose of determining whether one or more specific persons should be charged with the commission of such crimes”.

Khan said that the ICC will “continue its engagement with all relevant actors, whether national authorities, civil society, survivor groups or international partners, to advance this investigation.” He called on “all States Parties to the Rome Statute to provide us [the ICC] with the tools we need in order to allow us to effectively fulfill our mandate.” All five of the referring countries are party to the Rome Statute; Israel is not.

The referral comes as international organizations and Palestinian rights groups accuse Israel of various war crimes. Human Rights Watch has urged the ICC to investigate Israel actions on medical facilities as war crimes, Amnesty International has expressed alarm at the use of white phosphorus and Palestinian rights groups filed an ICC complaint alleging genocide. Israel has also accused Hamas of committing war crimes, with families of victims of the October 7 attack filing their own ICC complaint alleging genocide.

The current war between Israel and Hamas has lasted over 40 days, killing more than 11,000 Palestinians and 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for a humanitarian ceasefire to prevent further atrocities.