Where are you Government of Canada? Canadian Civil Society Calls on the International Criminal Court to Investigate Crimes in Palestine

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (R) in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: via AJE)
April 29, 2020
42 Canadian civil society organizations were among 183 Palestinian, Regional and International Human Rights Organisations that called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) – Time to Investigate Crimes in Palestine, Time for Justice.
Canadian civil society has spoken to the ICC, but the Canadian government has taken position in a letter to the ICC that it does not have jurisdiction over Palestine, and in a veiled threat, reminded the ICC of Canada's financial contribution.

Take 2-3 minutes to send your own letter to the Canadian government to let them know you stand with Canadian civil society in calling the Canadian Government to support the Prosecutor’s motion before the Pre Trial Chamber and hold Israel accountable for violations of international law.

May 1, 2020: The Chief prosecutor has doubled down on her decision to recognize Palestine as a state and recommends proceeding with a criminal investigation into Israeli war crimes. A three person panel will now make the final decision as to proceed or not. As expected the Israeli government is fit to be tied lashing out at the ICC, keep the letter writing going.


Together these organisations emphatically supported the Prosecutor’s finding that there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been and are being committed, that the ICC can properly exercise its jurisdiction over the entire territory of Palestine, and fully support without further undue delay, the opening of an ICC investigation into crimes committed in the West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.  

Although the Canadian government did not submit a brief to the ICC, the Canadian government did take the position in a letter that the ICC did not have jurisdiction over Palestine and at the same time, in a veiled threat, reminded the ICC of Canada’s financial contribution.

On March 12, 2020, Amnesty International Canada called for the federal government to support the prosecution by the International Criminal Court of Israel’s alleged war crimes in the Palestinian territories. This open letter was signed by Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada’s English branch, and Michael Lynk, the United Nations special rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.

In this open letter, Neve and Lynk supported a full investigation by the ICC “to break the cycle of impunity for war crimes, and paves the way for the many thousands who have suffered as a result of these crimes to finally achieve long overdue access to truth, justice and reparations.” They indicated “It is our belief that, as long as Israel believes that it enjoys impunity from its violations of international law, it will continue to deepen its five-decade-long occupation and, in the near future, seek to illegally annex significant portions of the West Bank.”

It is an embarrassment that the Canadian government has taken this stance. Beyond this, Canada’s approach means it has avoided having to face the legal accountability of filing an amicus curiae brief.
We join in naming the culture of impunity which has prevailed for some 52 years in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), and insist the perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the OPT must be held accountable at the International Criminal Court.

The Canadian government has accountability through both international and domestic law to take steps to ensure Israel does not commit war crimes and is held accountable for the war crimes it does commit.

Specifically, under:

International Law: Under Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, all high signatories including Canada, are required to take actions to ensure that violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention do not occur under any circumstance.

Domestic Law: Canada ratified the Rome Statute in 1998 and enacted the Statute through the War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity Act in 2000.

The December 13, 2019 mandate letter from Prime Minister Trudeau indicates to Minister Champagne that he is to “reinforce institutional institutions like the International Criminal Court” and ensure  “additional resources to promote and uphold international law.” The letter on February 14, 2020 to the ICC from the Canadian government is counter to this mandate.

Note: Organizations, Canadian and internationally, are invited to join iin a call the Canadian government HERE.  

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