The International Criminal Court (ICC) “was a hoax from the start.”
So said Michael Mandel, a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in Toronto, in response to the ICC Prosecutor’s shocking decision yesterday to refuse jurisdiction over Gaza war crimes without even referring the matter to judges.
In comments to the Institute for Public Accuracy, Mandel, author of How America Gets Away With Murder, Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage and Crimes Against Humanity elaborated:
It’s disgraceful but not surprising that the ICC has dismissed Palestine’s complaint against Israel. It sat on the complaint for over three years, always proudly announcing that it was investigating it to give the appearance of impartiality. Meanwhile the ICC jumped to attention in less than three weeks when the US government, which is not a signatory to the treaty, wanted to go to war against Libya, justifying Western aggression with bogus charges against the Libyan regime.
Referring to Luis Moreno Ocampo, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Mandel said:
Ocampo and company have been busy putting Africa on trial for crimes aided, abetted and exploited by the rich countries, while the US government killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and tens of thousands of Afghans, and Israel has been committing Nuremberg’s ‘supreme international crime’ of aggression against the Palestinians for 45 years.
Amnesty International presses for reconsideration
Yesterday Amnesty International strongly condemned as “dangerous” and “political” the decision by the ICC Prosecutor to refuse to investigate war crimes committed in the course of Israel’s 2008-2009 attack on the Gaza Strip, on the grounds that Palestine is not a “state.”
Amnesty stated that the determination as to whether the ICC had jurisdiction is one that had to be made by the judges, not by prosecutors.
Today, the human rights organization has gone even further, issuing a detailed “Questions and Answers” document explaining why the ICC prosecutor’s decision is incorrect and should be reconsidered.
At the heart of the document, Amnesty explains why it has taken such a strong stance:
Given that access to justice for victims of war crimes by both sides is at stake, Amnesty International is calling for an independent judicial determination of the issue by the ICC judges, rather than a political determination by external bodies where the matter will likely remain unresolved indefinitely while victims continue to be denied justice.
Furthermore, delegating this decision to a political body undermines the vital independence of the Court and exposes the ICC to political influence over justice issues.
The Office of the Prosecutor’s position establishes another a major barrier to justice for the victims and fails to address the fact that the Prosecutor has yet to seek an independent judicial determination from the Pre-Trial Chamber on the questions surrounding the ICC’s jurisdiction in this situation, despite the fact that the preliminary examination has been ongoing for more than three years.
“A dark day”
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), which has spearheaded legal efforts to bring justice for Palestinian victims of war crimes, condemned the ICC prosecutor’s decision, calling it a “dark day for international justice.”
PCHR said the “ICC Prosecutor has completely failed to address this issue in an appropriate manner,” and had exceeded its powers in deciding for itself whether Palestine was a “state” for the purposes of ICC action.
In contrast to the strong stances of PCHR and Amnesty International, it is notable that other human rights groups, including B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch have so far remained silent about the ICC prosecutor’s action.
There’s no doubt that the politically-motivated decision of the ICC Prosecutor is, and is intended to be, an obstacle on the path to justice for Palestinians. Even worse, it may serve as a green light to Israel to commit even more crimes fully assured of international complicity and impunity.