Al-Quds Bard College, Al-Quds University, Palestine

Update: Amnesty calls on ICC to act on Cast Lead ‘war crimes’

The article is available here.

Amnesty calls on ICC to act on Cast Lead ‘war crimes’
By JONNY PAUL, JPost
29/09/2010

NGO also calls on all states to investigate and prosecute crimes committed in Gaza conflict under “universal jurisdiction.”

LONDON – Amnesty International is urging the International Criminal Court in The Hague to decide on whether it can investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity AI says took place during Operation Cast Lead.

The London-based NGO is calling on the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to make the same call after it considers a report by a committee of independent experts. The committee report looks at what it called the continuing failures of Israel and Hamas to investigate violations of international law documented in the UN’s Goldstone Report.

“Both Israeli and Hamas authorities have been given adequate time and opportunity to ensure justice for the victims, yet they are both failing to do so,” said Widney Brown, a senior director of international law and policy at Amnesty.

“An international justice solution must now be found.”

Neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority has ratified the Rome Statute, the treaty of the International Criminal Court adopted in 1998 that established the court’s functions, jurisdiction and structure.

However in January 2009, the PA declared that it accepted the ICC’s jurisdiction over “all crimes committed in the territory of Palestine” since July 2002.

Amnesty said that since the PA accepts the ICC’s mandate, “under the ICC rules it would cover all crimes committed during the [Gaza] conflict, both in Gaza and in southern Israel.”

“Victims have waited long enough,” Brown said. “It’s now time the ICC prosecutor sought a decision on whether the Palestinian declaration submitted in 2009 allows him to act. If the Pre-Trial Chamber determines that the ICC has jurisdiction, the prosecutor should open an investigation into crimes committed by both sides during the Gaza conflict, without delay.”

Amnesty also called on national authorities of all states to investigate and prosecute crimes committed in the Gaza conflict in their national courts on behalf of the international community, saying that all states can prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity, regardless of where they are committed. This is commonly known as universal jurisdiction.

The controversial principle has been exploited by activists over the years to try and arrest Israeli officials visiting the UK.

Amnesty also urged the UN Human Rights Council to “recognize the failure” of the investigations conducted by Israel, and called on the Hamas de facto administration in the Gaza Strip to comply with international law and standards.

Amnesty also wants to refer the committee of independent experts’ report to the UN General Assembly and asks that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon place the report before the Security Council.

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