International Campaign for Justice for the Victims of Sabra and Shatila

An open letter to the survivors of the Sabra and Shatila massacre

Ellen Siegel is a registered nurse. She volunteered her services at the Gaza Hospital in Sabra Camp in Beirut in 1982, and was there during the massacre. She testified, as a witness, before the Kahan Commission of Inquiry in Jerusalem. This is a letter she wrote to her friends and fellow massacre survivors and witnesses in Beirut in the wake of Belgium’s decision to weaken its universal jurisdiction (anti-atrocity) legislation in response to pressure from the US Government. 

Confronting Impunity for War Crimes: The Choice before Belgium -- and All of Us

“Seasoned and objective analysts have been surprised and alarmed at American officials’ extreme reactions to Belgium’s recently modified universal jurisdiction law. US threats seem excessive and hysterical, especially since the new law successfully filtered out two cases lodged in the Belgian courts against US officials for alleged war crimes committed in Iraq in 1991 and 2003. Could there be any unspoken reasons for the unprecedented and impolitic arm-twisting of the Belgian government by US officials in recent weeks?” Laurie King-Irani examines the political context of recent attempts to gut Belgium’s admirable universal jurisdiction law. 

The Sabra and Shatila Case in Belgium: A Guide for the Perplexed

“Reports announcing the death of the case lodged by survivors of the Sabra and Shatila massacre in Belgium have been greatly exaggerated and persistent, but to date, categorically false. For supporters of the growing global campaign against impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity, the good news is that this case is still very much alive, although it has been affected by rulings of the International Court of Justice, wear and tear on Belgium’s bi-lateral ties with the US and Israel, and a global political context that has sharpened debate about war crimes, impunity, and the limitations and requirements of international criminal prosecution.” Laurie King-Irani, North American Coordinator for the International Campaign for Justice for the Victims of Sabra and Shatila, explains recent political and legal twists and turns in the landmark war crimes case in Belgium. 

Sharon Trial: 12 February 2003 decision of Belgian Supreme Court explained

The following background to the Belgian Supreme Court’s landmark decision explains the 12 February 2003 ruling. The Court drew a clear distinction, however, between Ariel Sharon and the rest of the accused. For the former, being Prime Minister of Israel, enjoys procedural immunity from prosecution under international customary law so long as he holds that position. The others accused do not, however, enjoy immunity, and their trial can go forward. Prepared by the legal team for the survivors and Laurie King-Irani. 

Belgium's Challenge to War's Ancient Calculus

“After nearly two years of reversals of fortune and near-death moments, the landmark case lodged by survivors of the Sabra and Shatila massacres was resurrected and revitalized last week, offering renewed hope to human rights activists and victims of state crimes throughout the world and posing challenges to those who have enjoyed impunity for far too long.” Laurie King-Irani, an EI founder and the North American Coordinator of the International Campaign for Justice for the Victims of Sabra and Shatila, looks at the implications of a decision by the Belgian Supreme Court last week.