Date: 20 Dec 2019
Original Lang.: Arabic
ICSPR welcomes the decision of the Prosecutor of the Permanent International Criminal Court, to request the Pre-Trial Chamber to issue a decision to decide on its regional competence in Palestine
The International Commission to Support Palestinians’ Rights (ICSPR) welcomes the decision of Ms. Fatou Bensouda, the Prosecutor of the Permanent International Criminal Court, to request the Pre-Trial Chamber of the Court to issue a decision to decide on its regional competence in Palestine, after announcing the end of the preliminary study that included a comprehensive and independent evaluation regarding the crimes committed in Palestine, which concluded that the situation meets all the necessary legal criteria under the Rome Statute to open an investigation into crimes in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem.
To clarify, the decision of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, requesting the Pre-Trial Chamber to initiate the preliminary investigation, is in line with the Rome Statute, which requires a judicial license from the Pre-Trial Chamber to initiate the preliminary investigation, which is often approved, according to the previous cases that were brought before the court in the same formula.
The current decision of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is a second step after the Prosecutor’s decision on 16 January 2015 to initiate a preliminary study of the situation in Palestine, after the State of Palestine deposited a special declaration under Article 13 (2) of the system whereby Palestine accepts the temporal jurisdiction of the court for crimes committed on the territory of Palestine since 13 June 2014, and falls within the ratione materiae of the court.
In the wake of the Prosecutor’s decision, the Pre-Trial Chamber will study the Prosecutor’s request and the materials supporting it to grant her permission to conduct an investigation if it finds that there is a reasonable reason to initiate a preliminary investigation, and that the case falls within the jurisdiction of the court, the Pre-Trial Chamber must give the Prosecutor a permission to conduct her preliminary investigations and this permission does not prejudice what the court decides later regarding jurisdiction and the admissibility of the case according to Article (17), and in case that if the Pre-Trial Chamber refuses because it is not convinced with the information provided to it, this refusal does not prevent the Prosecutor from submitting a subsequent request to the Pre-Trial Chamber, based on new facts and evidence with the aim of opening an investigation.
The Prosecutor’s taking the judicial permission to initiate the preliminary investigation means the beginning of a new course of action during which the Prosecutor’s office collects and excavates evidence, determines its validity and strength, and in order to do that, it is necessary to move to the crime scene, and take all necessary measures to investigate, such as: inspection, assignment of experts, hear witnesses, preserve evidence, seize objects, issue arrest warrants, and arrest suspects. These actions and duties are stipulated in Article 54 regarding the investigation.
The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has worked over the time period between 16 January 2015 and 20 December 2009 in a fair and impartial manner. During this period, thousands of reports and information were examined to determine whether an investigation and prosecution should be conducted among the criteria of Article 53 of the Rome Statute that opens the investigation.
ICSPR welcomes the decision of the Prosecutor of the Criminal Court, and considers this an important positive step towards achieving justice for the Palestinian victims, and expressing its appreciation for all the efforts made by the official and Palestinian NGOs in strengthening the path of holding the leaders of the Israeli occupation accountable, and narrowing the scope of international impunity. Therefore, ICSPR demands the following:
1. ICSPR urges the judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court, to achieve justice for the Palestinian victims, by granting the Prosecutor a judicial license with the majority of its members in order to enable her to conduct preliminary investigations into the crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territories.
2. ICSPR considers the decision of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, as a consolidation of the principle of international accountability, which contributes to reducing the scope of impunity, and achieving the necessary legal deterrence to ensure the achievement of international accountability.
3. ICSPR urges states that have ratified the Rome Statute, and the United Nations human rights institutions, to work to support the Prosecutor’s decision.
4. ICSPR calls on the Palestinian Foreign Ministry to invest its membership in the Executive Office of the Assembly of Member States of the Permanent International Criminal Court, in order to urge all actors of the permanent International Criminal Court, to ensure that the Prosecutor is granted the necessary judicial license to enable her to initiate an investigation in Israeli crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories.