Israeli and Palestinian authorities should immediately grant the International Criminal Court unhindered access to Palestinian territory to investigate alleged crimes under international law committed by all parties to the conflict, the International Commission of Jurists said today.
The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor yesterday announced the initiation of an investigation into “war crimes [that] have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”
“Israel, the United States and other States must refrain from any efforts undermining the Office of the Prosecutor and the integrity of its investigation,” said Said Bearbia, ICJ’s MENA programme director. “Rather, they should comply with universally recognized norms on the independence and impartiality of judges and prosecutors.”
The ICJ calls on all states and concerned organizations to cooperate fully with and provide any necessary assistance to Office of the Prosecutor in carrying out its investigation.
The Israeli and Palestinian authorities, in particular, should grant the Office of the Prosecutor and its members unhindered access to all Palestinian territory without delay, and allow them to visit sites, meet and speak freely and privately with victims and witnesses, and access any relevant documentation or records.
It is critical that the ICC’s investigators and prosecutors, like any other investigators and prosecutors, should be able to perform their professional functions independently, impartially, diligently and without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.
“The ICC investigation offers a unique opportunity to begin addressing the structural impunity that prevails over past and ongoing crimes under international law in Palestine,” Benarbia added. “It’s a crucial initial step in the realization of the victims’ rights to justice, truth and reparations.”
On 5 February 2020, the ICC decided it can assert its jurisdiction over serious crimes alleged to have occurred in the State of Palestine since 13 June 2014.
On 16 March 2020, the ICJ submitted amicus curiae observations in support of the Court’s territorial jurisdiction.
Find the Press Release in Arabic here: PalestineIsrael-PR-ICC-ARA2-2021
Said Benarbia, Director, ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme; t: +41 22 979 3817 e: said.benarbia(a)icj.org
Asser Khattab, Research and Communications Officer, ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme, firstname.lastname@example.org