Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) has sent a strong message to the office of the Public Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) questioning its position towards the ongoing war crimes committed by the Israeli forces against the Palestinians and criticizing its silence.
AOHR UN stressed that on June 13, 2014, the ICC had jurisdiction over crimes committed in Palestine, and on April 4, 2021, the state of Palestine became a state party to the Rome Statute; however, since then, and despite the commission of many crimes over the past years, the Office of the Prosecutor did not list the names of suspects and summon them in accordance to Article 54 of the Rome Statute.
AOHR UK stated that despite what happened on the Gaza Strip, including the killing of innocent and destruction of homes, the Office of the Prosecutor issued one statement that the Public Prosecutor is monitoring the events in the Gaza Strip, Jerusalem and the West Bank.
“We searched for this statement on the ICC’s official website, but we couldn’t find it, as it was published on behalf of the Prosecutor by reliable media outlets.”, added AOHR UK.
AOHR UK condemned the reluctance of the Public Prosecution Office to take any practical steps to identify suspects or issue arrest warrants is astonishing, especially as the Israeli occupation forces are broadcasting live their criminal acts and providing compelling and accumulating evidence of their commission of war crimes in accordance with Article 8 of the Rome Statute.
The letter provided legal basis saying that according to the Rome Statute, issuing statements to express concern is not mandated to the Public Prosecutor, but according to Articles 15, 53 and 54 and other articles regulating the work of the Office of the Public Prosecution, the Prosecutor can open an investigation and identify suspects.
“Moreover, the first paragraph of Article 15 provides that the Prosecutor may take initiative if he received information on the commission of war crimes without having to receive complaints.”, added AOHR UK.
“We have noticed expeditious opening of official investigations, identifying suspects and issuing arrest warrants in cases in Africa, unlike the case in Palestine, and it is unclear how many more years, and how many more victims does the Public Prosecution Office need to take decisive steps to serve justice?”
In its letter, AOHR UK gave examples of the double standard of the ICC in dealing with cases stating that the Public Prosecution Office aborted the trial of war crimes committed against the Mavi Marmara humanitarian fleet on May 31, 2010, on the grounds that the crime was not grave as if the fleet was not going for a humanitarian cause but was having a tour.
AOHR UK highlighted that the Public Prosecution Office did not consider the risks that would have claimed the lives of many more, and the prosecutor’s office failed to link this crime to the crime of the siege of Gaza. We wonder again, how many more victims would the Public Prosecution Office need to see to consider a crime as ‘grave’?
A list of the names of victims; women, children and men, has been attached to the Letter. AOHR UK affirmed that they are not numbers, but human beings who have a story, dreams and families screaming for justice.
The number of those injured is in the hundreds and a large number of them have serious injuries. There are also lists of homes and infrastructures destroyed.
Finally, AOHR UK criticized the leniency at the level of this judicial institution in providing redress to the victims gives the occupation a green light to continue committing war crimes according to the Rome Statute.
AOHR UK also called on the Office of the Prosecutor to take urgent steps to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes, including the occupation leaders, officers and soldiers, led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in order to achieve private and public deterrence.