Hague prosecutor says has no jurisdiction for Israel crimes

Israel and the United States have not signed the Rome Statute creating the court that the 108 countries signed.

Hague prosecutor says has no jurisdiction for Israel crimes

The International Criminal Court prosecutor in The Hague said on Wednesday it lacks jurisdiction to investigate Israel's war crimes recently committed in the Gaza Strip.

The prosecutor's statement came after a Palestinian rights group called on the ICC to investigate Israel for committing war crimes during its 20-day-old offensive in Gaza.

The office of the prosecutor said the court's jurisdiction is limited to war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide committed "on the territory of, or by a national of, a state party."

"In Gaza at present, the ICC lacks such jurisdiction," the prosecutor said in a statement.

The prosecutor said crimes committed in other situations can come before the ICC if the relevant non-party state voluntarily accepts the jurisdiction of the court on an ad hoc basis or if the United Nations Security Council refers a situation.

Set up in 2000, the Hague-based ICC is the world's first permanent court established to investigate and prosecute war crimes.

Israel and the United States have not signed the Rome Statute creating the court that the 108 countries signed, but that would not prevent the ICC from launching an investigation.

Terrorist weapons

"They are using terrorist weapons to conduct crimes against humanity," said lawyer May Sobhi Khansa, leader of the International Coalition against Impunity.

Khansa handed ICC officials a 25-page petition calling on the ICC to go to Gaza and investigate the "death and injury of hundreds of Palestinians, including women and children".

Set up in 2000, the Hague-based ICC is the world's first permanent court set up to investigate and prosecute war crimes.

Khansa said the ICC should also prosecute Israeli and U.S. leaders for war crimes, and said her group planned to file lawsuits against Israel with various national courts.

People gathered outside the ICC building, including members of the Dutch group Palestinian Platform for Rights and Solidarity, chanting, "Murderers Israel" and "Israel terrorist" as they waved Palestinian flags and banners.

Last week Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and a former ICC judge, called for independent investigations into war crimes committed by Israeli forces in Gaza.



Reuters

Last Mod: 15 Ocak 2009, 14:51
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