On 30 April 2020, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) submitted a 60-page response to the submissions of amici curiae in the Situation in the State of Palestine. Al-Haq wishes to reiterate its earlier expression of support for the Prosecutor as she moves towards an investigation into international crimes committed in Palestine, and trusts that such steps will soon be taken with an aim of realising the goal of the Court, and the object and purpose of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: vindicating the rights of victims, and ending impunity. “The submission’s extensive reliance on submissions made on behalf of Palestinian victims is to be applauded; we trust that Palestinian victims will continue to be central to the Office of the Prosecutor’s approach going forward,” said Director General of Al-Haq, Mr Shawan Jabarin.
Al-Haq welcomes the Prosecutor’s strong analysis on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, as has previously been recognised by the International Court of Justice as a fundamental principle to the international legal system, creating obligations on all States. Al-Haq also commends the Prosecutor for recognising that sovereignty over the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip resides primarily in the Palestinian people, under occuaption. Accordingly, General Director of Al-Haq, Shawan Jabareen stated, “The Prosecutor’s endorsement of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and permanent sovereignty is very welcome. We thank the Prosecutor for her continued commitment to justice and accountability in Palestine. Her continued efforts give us hope that perpetrators of the most egregious international crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, will soon be brought to justice”.
Nonetheless, Al-Haq retains some reservations with the submission. In particular, it is unfortunate that the Prosecutor has rejected to reconsider her earlier position on excluding the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), denoting the territorial waters within a 200 nautical mile radius from a State’s coast, from her understanding of the Court’s territorial jurisdiction. Al-Haq, along with its partners, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), Al Mezan, and Al-Dameer, argued in favour of the inclusion of Palestine’s EEZ, and remain concerned about the ongoing commission of the crime of pillage at sea, the unlawful appropriation of Palestinian offshore natural resources, and the systematic attacking of Palestinian fishermen off the Gaza shore. Moreover, Al-Haq remains concerned that the Prosecutor continues to resist taking action in the Mavi Marmara case.
Al-Haq remains supportive of the Prosecutor and welcomes her continued efforts in Palestine. As annexation of parts of the West Bank by the State of Israel appears imminent, with American support, it is more important now than ever that an investigation be conducted into Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity. Nonetheless, the past 10 years of inaction and waiting should not be forgotten. During this time, Al-Haq continued to call for the pursuit of justice, accountability, and an end to impunity, by submitting detailed materials and evidence to the Prosecutor on war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Accordingly, Al-Haq will continue to support the Prosecutor, and the cause for justice and accountability in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. To this effect, on 29 April 2020, Al-Haq, PCHR, Al Mezan, and Al-Dameer published a detailed review paper, responding to arguments raised against a criminal investigation in Palestine. This document was also sent to the Office of the Prosecutor. The same day, Al-Haq published a Q&A on the Situation.
In light of this, Al-Haq calls upon all States Parties to the Rome Statute to support the Prosecutor in her efforts to end impunity in Palestine. In light of recent threats and attacks upon the ICC by the State of Israel and the United States, it is imperative that the international community support the Prosecutor and her staff. We call in particular upon States Parties who submitted amici in opposition to the Court’s territorial jurisdiction in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to support and endorse the analysis of the Prosecutor in her response submission.