Al-Haq and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) welcome and commend the statement of the European Union (EU) expressing concern about the coercive measures reportedly taken by Russian representatives against International Criminal Court (ICC or “Court”) Prosecutor Karim Khan and the judges involved in the issuance of arrest warrants against Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova. The organisations salute the explicit reminder of the EU full support for the ICC, its elected officials and its staff.
While this statement shows the EU’s devotion to supporting international justice and the independence of the Court, as it was already the case with the statement issued to counter previous threats and coercive measures (including revocation of visas and the imposition of sanctions) taken against the Court and its officials by the United States of America under Executive Order 13928, Al-Haq and FIDH stress that the EU must adopt a more global and consistent policy in defence of the Court. This policy must extend to the ICC’s officials as well as those cooperating with it, including civil society organisations (CSOs), whenever such threats occur and irrespective of which States or individuals are making these threats.
Al-Haq and FIDH reiterate that the EU must show the same level of enthusiasm and support for all situations before the Court. Double standards (political and financial) and selectivity (perceived or real) in support of international justice efforts, especially those of the ICC, considerably harm the fight against impunity and the public’s perception of the independence and seriousness of these efforts and those who selectively support them. Al-Haq and FIDH therefore call on the EU to support the ICC and cooperate with the institution in all its investigations.
Al-Haq and FIDH take this opportunity to note the lethargy and delay of the ICC investigation into the situation in Palestine, as well as the lack of support from the EU and EU member States. Notably, the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) has already determined in 2020 that “war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip” by the Israeli occupation forces and that it has “identified potential cases arising from the situation which would be admissible”. The OTP has also concluded that “in the context of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, members of the Israeli authorities have committed war crimes under article 8(2)(b)(viii) in relation to, inter alia, the transfer of Israeli civilians into the West Bank since 13 June 2014. The Prosecution has further concluded that the potential case(s) that would likely arise from an investigation of these alleged crimes would be admissible pursuant to article 17(1)(a)-(d) of the Statute”.
Our organisations further note the crystalising consensus among the human rights movement, led by Palestinian CSOs, joined by Israeli, regional and international CSOs, that the Israeli authorities are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution against the Palestinians. However, despite the OTP statements and calls from civil society (including information shared by CSOs with the Court) substantial improvement is yet to be seen in the Palestine investigation. Given that Palestine is one of the most documented situations, there is no reason for further delay in issuing arrest warrants against perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Al Haq and FIDH therefore call on the OTP to expedite its investigation into the situation in Palestine, to look into the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the situation and, importantly, to allocate a more adequate budget to conduct this investigation. Our organisations also call on the EU and its individual member state to support the ICC investigation in Palestine and cooperate with the Court and the OTP to conclude the investigation without further unwarranted delays. Finally, Al-Haq and FIDH call on the EU to condemn all violations to human rights in Palestine as well as the latest agreement concluded between the US and Israel to circumvent the ICC investigation in Palestine.