ICC warns against 'retaliation threats'

AFP , Friday 3 May 2024

International Criminal Court prosecutors warned on Friday against "individuals who threaten to retaliate" against the tribunal or its staff, saying such actions might constitute an "offence against its administration of justice".

File photo: Exterior view of the International Criminal Court, or ICC, in The Hague, Netherlands. AP


The ICC did not say if the comment related to its investigation into possible war crimes committed by Israel against Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

US media said this week the ICC might issue an arrest warrant for Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and that the latter had urged US President Joe Biden to prevent the court from doing so.

On Friday, the Hague-based office of ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan said on X that it sought to "engage constructively with all stakeholders whenever dialogue is consistent with its mandate".

"That independence and impartiality are undermined, however, when individuals threaten to retaliate against the court or against court personnel" if it "made decisions" about probes that fell in its mandate, it said.

"Such threats, even not acted upon, may constitute an offence" against the ICC's "administration of justice", it said.

"The Office insists that all attempts to impede, intimidate or improperly influence its officials cease immediately."



The ICC opened a probe in 2021 into Israel, as well as Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups, over possible war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Khan has said this investigation now "extends to the escalation of hostilities and violence since the (Hamas) attacks that took place on October 7, 2023".

The New York Times has quoted Israeli officials as saying that Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu could be among those charged by the court.

The ICC was also weighing charges against Hamas leaders, the newspaper reported.

A series of Israeli officials have in recent days said any attempt by the court to take any action against Israel would be "outrageous".

Netanyahu said on X on Wednesday that the ICC was "contemplating issuing arrest warrants against senior Israeli government and military officials as war criminals".

The United States said on Monday it also opposed the ICC's probe into Israel's conduct in Gaza.

The ICC is the world's only independent court set up to probe the gravest offences by individual suspects, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

It has previously issued warrants for national leaders -- most recently Russian President Vladimir Putin over the invasion of Ukraine.

Israel's war on Gaza, nearing its seventh month, has killed at least 34,568 and wounded 77,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, according to besieged Gaza's health ministry.

Israel's siege has pushed more than half of the population to the brink of famine, with people in north Gaza already living under "famine-like conditions.

*This story has been edited by Ahram Online

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