The Guardian is reporting that two Palestinian human rights groups, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) and Al-Haq, have asked the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, to launch an investigation into the “widespread commission of crimes in Palestine,” and to “confront the temporal and territorial ‘black hole’ in which the people of the state of Palestine have been locked for the past several decades”.
Thus far the Palestinian leadership has not formally signed on with the international courts, but (PCHR) and Al-Haq argue that the ICC has grounds to extend its jurisdiction without having ratification by Palestine.
The two rights groups are calling for the court to begin an investigation based on “the mass of evidence and documentation attesting to the widespread commission of crimes in Palestine, and the environment of total impunity for the perpetrators”.
…… the legal opinion said the ICC had grounds to extend its jurisdiction without ratification by Palestine. It could do this on the basis of a declaration submitted by the Palestinian leadership in 2009, which accepted the jurisdiction of the court under article 12 (3) of the Rome statute.
“The purpose of the court being to combat impunity by ensuring that ‘the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole must not go unpunished’ and ‘to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes and thus to contribute to the prevention of such crimes’, it is now incumbent on the office of the prosecutor to confront the temporal and territorial ‘black hole’ in which the people of the state of Palestine have been locked for the past several decades,” the legal opinion said.
……the US has put intense pressure on the Palestinians to freeze any such moves while renewed peace negotiations are under way. Israel would be expected to walk out of talks at any sign of what it and the US describe as unilateral actions by the Palestinians to advance their state.
Israel is particularly alarmed at the prospect of the Palestinians joining the ICC as such a move could pave the way for possible prosecution of Israel for breaches of international law, including war crimes.
Just a few days days ago Raji Sourani, the founder and director of Gaza’s Palestine Centre for Human Rights, received a Right Livelihood Award, known as the “alternative Nobel Prize” for “decades of dedicated legal work and advocacy on behalf of human rights for the Palestinian people.”
(Hat tip Kathy Sheetz)