Wednesday, June 19, 2024

ICC members support arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Hamas leaders

 Ninety-three member states of the International Criminal Court (ICC) declared their “unwavering support” for the court to independently carry out its professional duties, in a joint statement reported Jurist. The statement comes after several ICC members have been threatened, particularly ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan after he declared to seek arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as three Hamas leaders.

In the statement, the member states of the Rome Statute contended that the court, together with its officials and staff, is an independent and impartial judicial institution and should act unhindered and without intimidation. They also called on all countries to cooperate fully with the court to enforce its mandates. The member states believe that by stating their support, the ICC can continue contributing to the end of impunity for international crimes and the prevention of the recurrence. The statement also seeks to promote the respect of international law.

The Rome Statute of the ICC provides for the establishment of the court, its international personality and the jurisdiction the court possesses. Upon becoming a party to the Rome Statute, the state party accepts the court’s jurisdiction with respect to the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. In May and August 2002, the US and Israel expressed their intention not to become a party to the statute respectively even though they both became signatories in 2000.

Accordingly, the US disputed whether the ICC possesses legitimate jurisdiction over the US or Israel. 12 US senators in April threatened to sanction Khan if the ICC prosecutors attempt to assert its jurisdiction by any means against the US and its allies. Netanyahu also called on the international community to prevent the court from issuing warrants, thereby undermining Israel’s inherent right of self-defense.

Following the announcement of the warrant applications on June 4, the US House of Representatives passed a bill compelling the US President to impose sanctions on the ICC and the related prosecutors through visa restrictions and property freezes. Joe Biden has so far opposed the bill. However, the speaker of the house Mike Johnson maintained that the ICC’s decision fell outside its jurisdiction and stated that Israel is respecting the rule of law.

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