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International Criminal Court's chief Prosecutor faces fiery criticism at UN Security Council

May 14, 2024 at 9:04 pm

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, speaks during a work plan between the Prosecutor’s Office of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Republic of Venezuela, accompanied by the president of the Bolivarian National Assembly of Venezuela, Jorge Rodriguez, at the headquarters of the National Assembly in Caracas, on April 22, 2024 [Pedro Rances Mattey – Anadolu Agency]

The chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Asad Ahmad Khan, faced strong criticism from UN Security Council members on Tuesday for not issuing arrest warrants for those responsible for massacres in the Gaza Strip, Anadolu Agency reports.

Denouncing Khan for not issuing the warrants, Libyan envoy, Taher M. El-Sonni said, “The world wants you to discover those involved in the mass graves, mass crimes against children, the genocide, the ethnic cleansing perpetrated in the ‘holocaust’ of the 21st century, the Gaza holocaust.”

During a Council meeting on Libya, El-Sonni asked Khan: “If the case in Libya is so complex, and the evidence that condemned the suspects are hard to get and you use the passive voice all the time. Isn’t it better to allocate your resources and your efforts to what is more clear and what is easier, Mr. Khan? I’m talking about Gaza.”

He emphasised that the world expects the ICC to be “courageous” and issue arrest warrants for Israeli officials who repeatedly commit genocide against Palestinians.

READ: South Africa urges ICC prosecutor to expedite probe into war crimes in Gaza

“What are you waiting for Mr. Khan?” El-Sonni asked. He asked if Khan saw the risk of a massacre in Rafah.

The Libyan envoy indicated that the ICC is facing a major test, saying the Court can now show whether it has become “politicised or independent and neutral”.

“Because its independence has always been called into question and now it is actually at stake,” he added.

Nacim Gaouaoui, Algeria’s deputy ambassador, stated that his country rejects pressures exerted by “certain countries and powers” on ICC officials.

He emphasised the importance of the rule of law prevailing.

“We also hope that the assistance provided by the members of the Council to the work of the ICC will also cover other issues in light of the threats that the Court faces during its engagement into cases relating to crimes related to the Israeli occupation,” he said.

Gaouaoui stressed the expectation that the ICC would take a “serious approach” to the situation in Gaza and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, saying, “This is necessary in order for the ICC to demonstrate that it is not a tool used by some members of the international community to threaten whoever they want, whenever they want. We must emphasise the need to avoid any double standards in this sense.”

Russian ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, drew attention to the fact that the ICC has not taken any action on Palestine since 2015.

He questioned whether there is a connection between the non-action and the US Congress’s call for sanctions if the ICC investigates individuals from the US and allied countries.

Describing the ICC as a “puppet body”, Nebenzia accused the ICC of making unsubstantiated allegations and asked, “Who controls the remote?”

Citing US legislation insisting that the ICC “stand down” on crimes committed in Gaza, Nebenzia argued that the legislation is “evidence” that the judicial body is a “political tool” of the West.

READ: US Republican senators threaten ICC prosecutor over arrest warrant against Netanyahu