On 1 December 2022, The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, and Al-Haq held an event in the Hague entitled “Palestine at the ICC: Justice delayed is Justice Denied” highlighting their concern at the lack of progress in the investigation being conducted by the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) into the situation in the State of Palestine and OTP’s silence concerning the repeated and escalating violations and crimes committed by the Israeli occupation forces against the Palestinian people.
Raji Sourani, Director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, said during the event that since the investigation was opened in March 2021, no practical steps have been taken by ICC Prosecutor Mr. Karim Khan in the investigation into the situation in the State of Palestine. Mr. Sourani expressed his concern regarding the low budget allocated for the investigation compared with other situation countries, and the lack of preventative and public statements issued by the OTP despite the serious events that happened in Palestine over the past year including Israel’s designation of six civil society organizations as terrorist organizations, and the assassination of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, and the killing and wounding of innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, on a daily basis by the Israeli occupation forces.
Issam Younis, Director of Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights said that time in Palestine is counted differently to others situation countries as it is counted by days not weeks or months because every day there are innocents being killed, lands being confiscated and houses being destroyed, and that is why immediate action needs to be taken by the Office of the Prosecutor. He added that Palestinian human rights organizations are in The Hague to convey the message that they are frustrated by work of the Office of the Prosecutor as the more time that no action is taken the more victims that will fall in Palestine.
Tahseen Elyaan, Senior Legal Researcher with Al-Haq, said that the suffering of Palestinians did not start with the Palestinian’s accession to the Rome State, but it started 75 years ago and that the OTP must take this into consideration when looking at the situation. He said that the investigation has taken too long and that the inaction of the international community and absence of accountability of the ICC sends a negative message to the Palestinians in general and the direct victims of Israeli crimes as if the ICC can not do anything for them and indirectly tells them to take the law with their hands.
Katherine Gallagher, Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, said that the Court needs to think very seriously about whether it is going to be a western court that serves the interests of western governments only. She also said that “priorities” is a word that is heard a lot at the moment and warned of putting victims against each other to compete for justice. She stressed on the importance of having victims from different situation countries having equal access to justice.
Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, said that the inaction of the ICC not only undermines the effectiveness of international law but also tarnishes its image explaining that the ICC needs Palestine more than Palestine needs the ICC because of the legitimacy crisis and constant criticism coming from the global south countries. She also called on the ICC prosecutor to take immediate steps vis-à-vis his legal obligations towards the investigation in the State of Palestine.