Reports & Researches

Human rights organization (Witness): Expresses concerns over ineffectiveness of occupation crimes investigation and calls on Karim Khan to avoid double standards in Ukraine and Palestine cases

Human rights organization (Witness): Expresses concerns over ineffectiveness of occupation crimes investigation and calls on Karim Khan to avoid double standards in Ukraine and Palestine cases The primary reports that (Witness) is monitoring manifest the double standards of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in dealing with human rights issues especially with Palestine’s issue. The Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness) expresses deep concern towards the Prosecutor of the ICC, Mr. Karim Khan, employing a double standard approach in handling similar cases (the Palestine situation and the Ukraine situation). This implies a distinct bias towards the occupation at its utmost extent and a lack of seriousness and efficacy at its minimal level. Over years, (Witness), along with other non-governmental organizations, has submitted various complaints to the ICC about the situation in Palestine, it being a party to Rome Statute in 2002, and called for opening a serious, transparent, and comprehensive investigation. Although Mr. Karim Khan has opened an investigation in 2021, this investigation has shown limited effectiveness. Despite the heinous acts of the Israeli occupation forces against Gaza, (Witness) affirms that Mr. Khan haven’t considered visiting Gaza to assess the humanitarian situation, examine the crimes committed, and hear from victim’s families, but rather chose to hold a public press conference in Rafah. It remains unclear if he had already requested permission from Israeli authorities to visit Gaza, and if so, whether the occupation rejected this request. However, on November 30, 2023, he visited Israel upon a request from survivors of October 7 and relatives of Israeli casualties. In addition, the image he posted while in occupied Jerusalem with the Al-Aqsa Mosque behind him, stating that it is in Israel, represents a serious misconduct from the Prosecutor of an international court. It contradicts the international law, the decisions of ICC judges that consider Gaza Strip, West Bank, and Jerusalem as occupied Palestinian territories, as well as advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, which asserts that East Jerusalem is an occupied territory. Khan’s acceptance of this invitation and not visiting Gaza shows an evident bias towards one of the parties, raising questions about impartiality, transparency, and objectivity. While Mr. Khan decided to visit Israel and meet with representatives of October 7 survivors and then heading to territories of the Palestinian National authority, it is surprising that he didn’t meet with families of Palestinian victims including prisoners, victims of settlement and occupation forces crimes, and recently released children from Israeli prisons. Considering that these meetings fall within his jurisdiction as stipulated in the Rome Statute, it is astonishing that they are limited solely to the confines of office walls! Furthermore, the double standards in his approach to the Russian-Ukrainian crisis can’t be overlooked. Within one year, he initiated an investigation into the Ukraine situation and issued an arrest warrant against the Russian President, Vladimir Putin. On the contrary, there has been almost complete disregard for events in Gaza and no issuance of any arrest warrants against Israeli leaders who have explicitly stated their intention to cut off water, medicine, and food supplies to the residents of Gaza Strip. This constitutes a collective punishment crime. Additionally, horrific crimes have been committed against Palestinian civilians, resulting in the deaths of over 20,000 Palestinian civilians (including those stuck under the rubble), mostly children and women. Moreover, there has been systematic targeting of civilian infrastructure, including hospitals. This biased approach raises doubts about the impartiality of upholding the principles and values that ICC is supposed to be based on. It suggests the possibility of hidden influences manipulating legal proceedings, in addition to the potential impact on the judicial ruling if issued. The Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness) calls for a transparent serious unbiased investigation that reveals the truth of incidents based on scientific, professional, and neutral standards. (Witness) also underscores the significance of the court's independence and its capability to address issues with objectivity and fairness, devoid of any intervention from a state or bias towards any party. It calls on the International Criminal Court to open a more effective, prompt, and dynamic investigation into the situation in Palestine. It urges Mr. Karim Khan to issue arrest warrants against Israeli war criminals, not only those involved in the aggression against Gaza but also for crimes related to settlements and crimes against prisoners. The court should take all necessary measures to achieve this goal, including the establishment of a regional field office to expedite the investigation, similar to what was done in Kyiv (the situation in Ukraine). Beirut, December 2, 2023 Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness)