16 February 2020
The Australian Centre for International Justice (ACIJ) calls upon the Australian Government to support international justice and accountability and withdraw its request to intervene at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
On Friday 14 February, the Australian Government filed a request to intervene in proceedings at the ICC, arguing that the court has no jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute grave crimes in Palestine.
ACIJ Director, Ms Rawan Arraf said:
“This position undermines Australia’s commitment to uphold and promote accountability and international justice on the global stage.
“The position of the Australian Government is unprecedented. This kind of direct engagement in an international court process simply does not make sense. Why is Australia going out of its way to hold back an investigation into Palestine?
“Australia has always been a strong supporter of accountability and the fight to end impunity. It should not stop now and it should withdraw its request.
“The ICC is a court of last resort for international crimes. In situations of chronic impunity, Australia must support accountability processes and not intervene to block attempts to conduct a proper investigation.
“In a broader context where the ICC is facing a critical point in its history, Australia should support universal ratification for the ICC and ensure it provides access to justice for all peoples, without discrimination.
“Australia must support the rule of law and pursue a policy that values human rights and upholds international justice and accountability. Australia should support a full and proper investigation by the ICC into allegations of grave crimes in Palestine.
“This is not just some academic exercise on questions of law. There are real victims and ongoing grave crimes which impact enormously on the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Palestinian people who are denied justice and dignity.”
- On 20 December 2019, the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), concluded a long running 5-year preliminary examination into the ‘Situation in Palestine’
- On conclusion, the ICC Prosecutor found that there is a reasonable basis to start an formal investigation into the Situation in Palestine
- The Prosecutor found there are reasonable grounds to believe that war crimes have been, or are being, committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip by members of the Israel Defense Forces, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups, and members of the Israeli authorities
- Prior to initiating a formal investigation the ICC Prosecutor requested the Pre-Trial Chamber rule on the scope of the Court’s territorial jurisdiction
- The Prosecutor is seeking judicial confirmation that the territory, over which the ICC may exercise its jurisdiction, comprises the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), that is the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip
- The ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber made an order on 28 January 2020, for interested parties, includes States, persons and organisations, to seek leave to file ‘amicus curiae’ observations by 14 February 2020
- Australia is one of only six States Parties who filed requests to intervene and provide observations, including: Germany, Hungary, Austria, Brazil and the Czech Republic
- There are 123 countries which are States Parties of the Rome Statute of the ICC
- On 2 January 2015, Palestine became a State Party to the Rome Statute of the ICC under article 12(1)
- On 29 November 2012, the UN General Assembly upgraded Palestine’s observer status in the General Assembly to that of a non-member state, affirming its status as a State
For media enquiries contact Rawan Arraf on +61(0) 450 708 870.