1 December 2021
Al-Haq is pleased to invite you to the virtual side event held at the 20th Session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on the topic “Obstructing Justice and Promoting Impunity: Israel’s Designation of Palestinian Civil Society Organisations as ‘Terrorist Organisations’”. The event, co-hosted by the State of Palestine and Al-Haq, will take place on Wednesday, 8 December 2021, from 13:30 to 15:30 CET.
On 19 October 2021, Israel designated six Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations (CSOs) as “terrorist organizations” under Israel’s domestic Counter-Terrorism Law of 2016. On 3 November 2021, Israel’s commander-in-chief of the Central Command issued military orders declaring the Palestinian organizations as “unlawful associations”. Israel’s designations constitute an alarming and unprecedented escalation of its attacks against Palestinian organizations that carry out indispensable work in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), including monitoring and documenting human rights violations and international crimes, and providing a spectrum of essential services to the Palestinian population, including in Area C.
Since its establishment in 1979, Al-Haq has worked relentlessly to “protect and promote human rights and the rule of law” in the oPt, through documenting violations of Palestinians’ rights and seeking to end such breaches by way of advocacy before national and international mechanisms and by holding the violators accountable. In accordance with its mandate, Al-Haq has submitted six core joint communications to the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), providing evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by individuals in the Israeli army and the Israeli authorities. Al-Haq’s advocacy work on the international level, especially its continuous and constructive engagement with the ICC, is one of the main reasons driving Israel’s long-orchestrated smear campaign against Palestinian CSOs.
Israel’s unlawful designations of the six Palestinian CSOs is only the last of a series of attacks part of its systematic and ongoing intimidation campaign, which aim to obstruct justice from being delivered to the Palestinian people. Previously, Al-Haq staff members received death threats as a result of their engagement with the ICC, as Former Prosecutor Bensouda acknowledged in 2016. Further, Israel has been systematically silencing opposition to its widespread and systematic human rights violations and apartheid practices as a method to maintain its apartheid regime, and created a climate of fear and intimidation by using arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment, collective punishment, racist hate speech and incitement to racial hatred, as well as smear and delegitimizing campaigns against human rights defenders “seeking to challenge its prolonged occupation, human rights abuses, and apartheid regime over the Palestinian people.”
Article II of the Apartheid Convention provides that the crime of apartheid “shall apply to the… inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them: [including] “(f) Persecution of organizations and persons by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid.”
2. Objectives of the Event
Israel systematically denies international access to the occupied Palestinian territory, including UN Special Rapporteurs, investigators from Commissions of Inquiries and Fact-Finding Missions and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Such a policy inhibits them from investigating Israel’s violations of international law, thereby undermining their efforts to contribute to accountability, reparations and the protection of the rights of the Palestinian people. As a result, international investigative bodies, including the ICC, become heavily dependent on the crucial work of Palestinian civil society, such as Al-Haq and fellow organisations that document and monitor human rights abuses and international crimes.
Against this backdrop, this side event discusses Israel’s designations as an alarming escalation of attacks against Palestinian organisations as a clear attempt by Israel to conceal its crimes and prevent the ICC from acquiring information and evidence collected by these targeted organisations. In particular, such acts amount to “offences against the administration of justice” as stipulated under Article 70 of the Rome Statute, which provides that the ICC has jurisdiction over such offences when committed intentionally, including “destroying, tampering with or interfering with the collection of evidence.”
Further, this side event discusses Israel’s unlawful designations as part and parcel of Israel’s decades-long systematic harassment campaigns against the Palestinian CSOs, and which amounts to an inhuman act in the form of “Persecution of organizations [..] because they oppose apartheid,” as an act of an illegal apartheid regime.
Opening remarks and moderation: Ahmed Abofoul, Legal Researcher, Al-Haq.
- H.E Ammar Hijazi, Ambassador, Assistant Minister for Multilateral Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the State of Palestine;
- Dr Susan Power, Head of Legal Research and Advocacy Department, Al-Haq;
- Mr Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director, Human Rights Watch; and,
- Prof. John Dugard, Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Leiden (The Netherlands) and the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa), former Special Rapporteur for the United Nations Human Rights Council for the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Link to the event: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82439092667?pwd=RVZLZmRkM21aT2ltMVFUa3hraCtZQT09
Id: 824 3909 2667
See concept note here