GENEVA – The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties ( GCRL) welcomes the decision of Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court issued Friday, February 5, 2021, which establishes the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice over the occupied Palestinian territories, paving the way for the investigation of war crimes there.
The Pre-Trial Chamber issued its decision regarding the request of Attorney General Fatou Bensouda, by majority, that the Court’s territorial jurisdiction in the Situation in Palestine, a State party to the ICC Rome Statute, extends to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
GCRL considers the Pre-Trial Chamber’s ruling an affirmation of the Palestinian rights and United Nations decisions, and a step paving the way for the opening of an investigation into the war crimes committed by the Israeli forces in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The council calls for a prompt and effective international investigation based on integrity and credibility to achieve accountability for the war criminals, and fairness and justice for the victims.
On December 20, 2019, after five years of preliminary examination, the Prosecutor determined that all the statutory criteria under the Rome Statute for the opening of an investigation have been met. The investigation was then postponed pending a court ruling from The ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I regarding the scope of the court’s territorial jurisdiction in Palestine.
GCRL calls on the administration of US President Joe Biden to reverse the decision issued by former US President Donald Trump, which imposed sanctions on senior officials in the International Criminal Court. On September 02, 2020, the then US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the imposition of economic sanctions on the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, and ICC’s Head of Jurisdiction, Complementary, and Cooperation Division Phakiso Mochochoko, as part of a series of unilateral actions against the court.This move was based on the Executive Order (US Executive Order 13928 of June 11, 2020) issued by US President Donald Trump against court officials.
The Geneva Council urges the international community, including the states parties to the Rome Statute, to ensure the independence and impartiality of the court, and to support an immediate investigation into war crimes in the Palestinian territories, to achieve justice, and the protection of human rights that are subject to constant violations.