On Thursday, Canadian lawyers served a notice of intent to seek prosecution of Canadian officials complicit in Israel’s war crimes in Gaza.
The notice follows the filing of a federal lawsuit in the US, earlier this week, against President Joe Biden and his secretaries of state and defense to stop them from further aiding and abetting Israel’s genocide in Gaza.
The lawyers, who are part of the legal working group of the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians, warn that the Canadian government – including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly – are risking complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity.
“It is a crime to supply arms to a state with knowledge that they will be used for war crimes and genocide,” the notice explains.
“The Government of Canada should also be aware that international criminal tribunals have previously examined the responsibility of those who have substantially contributed to a crime by providing encouragement and moral support to the perpetrators where the perpetrators are aware of this support,” it adds.
Although the Canadian lawyers “cannot initiate prosecutions at the ICC ourselves, we can share evidence with the Prosecutor,” Martinez explained.
“We can also engage Third Party State signatories to the Rome Statute and encourage them to request investigations into Canadian complicity.”
In order to reduce Canada’s risk of “further complicity,” the notice states, the Trudeau administration must immediately take a number of diplomatic and economic measures.
Those measures include the call for a ceasefire and a secure provision of humanitarian aid, as well as to “cancel all Canadian permits for arms exports to Israel.”
Canada must also “prosecute those recruiting Canadian volunteers for Israel’s armed forces” and “prevent Canadian charities from using donations to benefit Israel’s armed forces,” the lawyers say.
Last year, criminal charges were pursued against a Canadian group that organizes “volunteers for Israel” over its alleged recruitment for the Israeli military.
Martinez, representing the plaintiffs in the case, said that the group was in violation of Canada’s Foreign Enlistment Act.