A Nigerian human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has requested the UK to use its presidency of the UN Security Council to persuade members to refer Israel to the International Criminal Court, ICC, over its military invasion of Gaza.
In a letter dated August 19 and addressed to David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, Mr. Falana accused Israel of unlawful killings and destruction of civilian property in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
“I am writing to request that you use your good offices and position to urgently facilitate the referral of Israel to the International Criminal Court, ICC, in order for the court to investigate allegations of the unlawful killings and destruction of property perpetrated by Israel against the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and West Bank,” said Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
“I am aware that the UK is holding the presidency of the UN Security Council for the month of August. Since Israel has not ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court the only way the court will be able to exercise jurisdiction over Israel is by a referral by the Security Council, pursuant to article 13, paragraph (b) of the Rome Statute.
“I strongly believe that without your leadership at this point in time those who ordered and encouraged the international crimes being committed in the Gaza Strip and West Bank which are clearly prohibited under the Rome Statute will escape being brought to justice, and the victims will be left with no hope of international justice and accountability.
“This referral will also provide an important opportunity for the court to investigate any allegations of international crimes committed by all parties—whether involved directly or indirectly—in the ongoing armed conflict,” Mr. Falana added.
Since the latest Israeli-Palestinian conflict began on July 8, almost 2,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed while Israel have recorded 67 deaths.
Mr. Falana said that Israel have breached “with an almost absolute impunity” the international humanitarian law which principally aims to protect civilian populations during conflicts.
“It should be pointed out as the International Court of Justice has correctly stated, that the fact of conflict does not extinguish the international human rights obligations and commitments by Israel,” Mr. Falana said.
“The breach of international humanitarian law is illustrated by the failure to differentiate between military targets and civilians and civilian structures, and the clear intentional and deliberate attacks on civilians or civilian objects in particular, homes, medical facilities, and schools. I should mention that so far there is no evidence that such homes, medical facilities and schools are being used for military purposes. Therefore, there cannot be any justifications for such attacks including the wanton killing of children.
“I therefore urge you to urgently work with other members of the Security Council to ensure referral of Israel to the ICC over alleged international crimes as outlined above. In the meantime, the UK will do well to suspend all transfers of weapons, munitions and other military equipment and technology to Israel so that any such equipment and technology is not used to continue to perpetrate serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.
Mr. Falana further stated that leaders of some African countries, who did not commit such grave crimes against humanity, were indicted by the ICC.
“Since international humanitarian law recognises equality before the law, I strongly believe it is in the best interest of justice and international accountability that the UK exercises strong leadership to end the vicious cycle of violence and impunity of perpetrators in the Gaza Strip and West Bank,” he added.