GENEVA, (PIC)– “Under the laws of The Hague court, my office can only investigate alleged war crimes in Palestine if it grants us jurisdiction in its territory. It has not done so,” prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Fatou Bensouda said.
‘’Has the international criminal court avoided opening an investigation into alleged war crimes in Gaza due to political pressure?. . . The answer is an unequivocal “no”. As prosecutor of the ICC, I reject any suggestion of this in the strongest terms,” Bensouda said in an article published in the Guardian newspaper.
“When an objective observer navigates clear of the hype surrounding this issue, the simple truth is that my office has never been in a position to open such an investigation due to lack of jurisdiction. We have always, clearly and publicly, stated the reasons why this is so,” she explained.
In Bensouda’s terms the Rome statute, the ICC’s founding treaty, is open to participation by states. The prosecutor can only investigate and prosecute crimes committed on the territory or by the nationals of states that have joined the ICC statute or which have otherwise accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC through an ad hoc declaration to that effect pursuant to article 12-3 of the statute.
According to Bensouda, this means that the alleged crimes committed in Palestine are beyond the legal reach of the ICC, despite the arguments of some legal scholars that fundamental jurisdictional rules can be made subject to a liberal and selective interpretation of the Rome statute.
“In November 2012, Palestine’s status was upgraded by the UN general assembly to “non-member observer state through the adoption of resolution 67/19. My office examined the legal implications of this development and concluded that while this change did not retroactively validate the previously invalid 2009 declaration, Palestine could now join the Rome statute,” she added.
“That Palestine has signed various other international treaties since obtaining this “observer state” status confirms the correctness of this position. Nonetheless, to date, the statute is not one of the treaties that Palestine has decided to accede to, nor has it lodged a new declaration following the November 2012 General Assembly resolution,” Bensouda maintained.
“It is a matter of public record that Palestinian leaders are in the process of consulting internally on whether to do so; the decision is theirs alone and as ICC prosecutor, I cannot make it for them,” she further declared.
“By virtue of the nature of the court’s mandate, every situation in which the ICC prosecutor acts will be politically fraught. My mandate as prosecutor is nonetheless clear: to investigate and prosecute crimes based on the facts and exact application of the law in full independence and impartiality,” she confirmed.
“I have made it clear in no uncertain terms that the office of the prosecutor will execute its mandate, without fear or favor, where jurisdiction is established and will vigorously pursue those – irrespective of status or affiliation – who commit mass crimes that shock the conscience of humanity,” she vowed, adding, “My office’s approach to Palestine will be no different if the court’s jurisdiction is ever triggered over the situation.”
“It is my firm belief that recourse to justice should never be compromised by political expediency. The failure to uphold this sacrosanct requirement will not only pervert the cause of justice and weaken public confidence in it, but also exacerbate the immense suffering of the victims of mass atrocities. This, we will never allow,” ICC prosecutor pledged.
Note from occpal
- PA has been obstructing/delaying accessing the Rome Statute for some years now since 2011
THE LEGAL RIGHT OF RESISTANCE
MORAL, HISTORICAL & LEGAL RIGHT OF SELF-DEFENSE
GENOCIDE & ETHNIC CLEANSING OF PALESTINE
DEBUNKING THE ISRAELI MYTHS