The ICC relies on State cooperation and civil society as essential actors in delivering on its mandate to hold perpetrators of the most serious crimes accountable for their crimes.
When the ICC, and international justice more generally, was at risk due to threats aimed at deterring cooperation with the court, civil society firmly stood up for the Court. Protecting civic space is, thus, crucial for ensuring that the system can work for the benefit of the victims.
We welcome the adoption by the Bureau of the Assembly of a strategy and annex of a compilation of good practices to counter any threat or attack against the Court, its officials and those cooperating with it. Now that this strategy and annex have been adopted, it should be put into effect when threats or attacks, including against civil society and human rights defenders are identified.
We are seeing at this very moment attacks against “those who cooperate with” the court. This includes an attack on Palestinian civil society organizations. The Israeli government has outlawed six prominent Palestinian civil society organizations, several of which have been submitting information to the ICC about alleged crimes committed by Israeli forces, and raided their offices. These actions have been internationally condemned.
Al-Haq and nearly 200 organizations have sent a letter to the President of the ASP urging her to implement this new strategy including by:
- Coordinating sending a letter to the Israeli authorities condemning their attacks on Palestinian CSOs and demanding their unlawful designations be rescinded;
- Publicly condemn Israel’s designations and threats against Palestinian CSOs and defend the human rights defenders and CSOs cooperating with the ICC; and
- Inform the ASP Bureau and ICC States Parties of the threats and sanctions against Palestinian CSOs and encourage them to express their support of Palestinian CSOs and their condemnation of Israel’s designations.
We also call on individual States Parties to develop their own strategies to counter attacks against civil society and human rights defenders. We hope you all can firmly and unequivocally stand with human rights defenders around the world.
The statement was delivered by Al-Haq on behalf of:
- Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
- Human Rights Watch
- International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
- Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)
- Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice