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News > Palestine

US Senators Threaten ICC Judges Over Genocide Investigation

  • A message sent from Gaza, 2024.

    A message sent from Gaza, 2024. | Photo: X/ @IsabelleSvi

Published 10 May 2024

The Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council rejected the intimidation of the International Criminal Court.

On Friday, over 40 United Nations human rights rapporteurs and experts condemned recent threats against the International Criminal Court (ICC) made by U.S. conservative politicians.


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Previously, on April 24, fourteen U.S. senators sent a letter to ICC Prosecutor Karim A. A. Khan questioning the legitimacy and legality of the International Court issuing arrest warrants against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials.

“Neither Israel nor the U.S. are members of the ICC and are therefore outside of your organization's supposed jurisdiction. If you issue a warrant for the arrest of the Israeli leadership, we will interpret this not only as a threat to Israel's sovereignty but to the U.S. sovereignty. Our country demonstrated in the American Service-Members' Protection Act the lengths to which we will go to protect that sovereignty,” the Senators said.

Among the signatories of this letter are Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, Mitch McConnell, Katie Boyd Britt, Marsha Blackburn, Ted Budd, Kevin Cramer, Bill Hagerty, Pete Ricketts, Rick Scott, Tim Scott, and Ted Cruz.

“The U.S. will not tolerate politicized attacks by the ICC on our allies. Target Israel and we will target you. If you move forward with the measures indicated in the report, we will move to end all American support for the ICC, sanction your employees and associates, and bar you and your families from the United States. You have been warned,” they added.

On May 4, the ICC Prosecutor's Office confirmed having received threats of retaliation, which included direct sanctions against its members and cuts to the financing of this international institution.

In reaction to these threats, the United Nations special rapporteurs affirmed that U.S. politicians promote impunity in an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“At a time when the world should unite to end the terrible bloodshed in Gaza and seek justice for those unlawfully killed, injured, traumatized, or taken hostage, since October 7, it is distressing to see State officials threatening to retaliate against a Court for pursuing international justice,” the experts said.

“It is shocking to see countries that consider themselves champions of the rule of law trying to intimidate an independent and impartial international tribunal to thwart accountability,” they added.

UN rappporteurs recalled that the ICC Prosecutor has been investigating crimes committed by anyone in Palestinian and Israeli territory since 2014. As part of an ICC-authorized task, Khan is investigating what is happening in Gaza and the West Bank since October 7, 2023.

“A majority of the world’s countries support the Court. The ICC’s role is more crucial than ever. Impeding the work of the Court and its Prosecutor will be detrimental, not only for accountability in the occupied Palestinian territory but for international justice as a whole,” UN special rappporteurs stressed.

The statement rejecting threats to the ICC was signed by members of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, which is the largest body of independent experts in the United Nations Human Rights system. Among them are the following people:

- Margaret Satterthwaite, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers

- Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied

- Ben Saul, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism

- Cecilia M Bailliet, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity

- Siobhán Mullally, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children

- Paula Gaviria Betancur, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons

- Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

- George Katrougalos, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order

- Bernard Duhaime, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence

- Marcos A. Orellana, Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes

- Gina Romero, Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association

- Ashwini K.P., Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance

- Graeme Reid, Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity

- Surya Deva, Special Rapporteur on the right to development

- Aua Baldé, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances

- Tomoya Obokata, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences

- Astrid Puentes, Special Rapporteur on the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment

- Farida Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on the right to education

- Michael Fakhri, Special Rapporteur on the right to food

- Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation

- Dorothy Estrada Tanck, Chair of the Working group on discrimination against women and girls

- Jose Francisco Calí Tzay, Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples

- Nicolas Levrat, Special Rapporteur on Minority issues

- Alexandra Xanthaki, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights

- Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

- Balakrishan Rajagopal, Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing

- Richard Bennett, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan

- Matthew Gillett, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on arbitrary detention

- Reem Alsalem, Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls

- Barbara G. Reynolds, Chair of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent

- Olivier De Schutter, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights

- Anaïs Marin, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus.

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