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Rights groups call for Palestine to join ICC

Dec. 10, 2012 5:25 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 12, 2012 11:02 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The recently UN-recognized state of Palestine must join the International Criminal Court, four Palestinian human rights groups urged on Monday.

Marking international Human Rights Day, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said it was launching an advocacy campaign for the court to gain jurisdiction over Palestine.

After winning a UN status upgrade in November, Palestine could sign the court's Rome Statute, allowing prosecutions for genocide, war crimes and other major human rights violations on Palestinian territory.

The PCHR, al-Dameer, al-Mezan Center for Human Rights and the Palestinian NGO Network on Monday issued a call for Palestine to join the court and for it to open an investigation into alleged war crimes.

A UN-sponsored report recommended the investigation of war crimes by Israel and Hamas during the 2008-9 war on Gaza, but the ICC Prosecutor said at the time he could not determine whether Palestine fulfilled statehood criteria.

The rights groups said the lack of accountability after this war "allowed Israel to carry out yet another offensive" this November.

"In the absence of an independent body which is empowered to investigate the alleged commission of crimes against the people of Palestine and to hold the perpetrators accountable, Israeli forces continue to act with impunity and disregard numerous principles of international human rights and humanitarian law," the statement said.

"We have worked for many years within the Israeli judicial system, trying to achieve justice and accountability for Palestinian victims; this experience has unequivocally proven that the system is incapable of ensuring an effective remedy for Palestinian victims."
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