NGOs Gathered in Kampala Call for End to Impunity Crisis Following Israeli Attack on Aid Convoy

For Immediate Release

NGOs Gathered in Kampala Call for End to Impunity Crisis Following Israeli Attack on Aid Convoy

WASHINGTON - We, the undersigned organisations gathered in Kampala at the
International Criminal Court (ICC) Review Conference, are shocked by
Israel’s killing and injury of civilians carrying humanitarian supplies
to Gaza. We wish to express our sorrow regarding the loss of life and
call on the international community to immediately take all appropriate
measures in response to this unacceptable violence.

On 31 May 2010 Israeli forces opened fire against an international
aid convoy seeking to bring humanitarian supplies into the Gaza Strip;
more than 700 unarmed activists from over 40 countries were on board the
8-ship flotilla. The attack occurred in international waters and
resulted in the killing of at least 9 persons and the injury of a
further 60.
 
The entire population of the Gaza Strip is subjected to an illegal
closure imposed by Israel as a form of collective punishment, resulting
in a scandalous, wholly preventable humanitarian crisis. As noted by the
United Nations, Israel currently allows only one-quarter of the
necessary supplies into Gaza. The aid convoy was carrying 10,000 tonnes
of humanitarian goods, including medicines, basic education and
reconstruction materials.
 
This tragedy is the result of the prolonged impunity granted to
Israel by the international community, despite Israel's documented,
persistent disregard for international and humanitarian law in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and its violation of fundamental
human rights, including the right to life. Many of these violations also
entail criminal responsibility; however, so far no concrete action has
been taken and impunity is a long standing feature of Israel's illegal
occupation policy.
 
As noted by the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, the
“prolonged situation of impunity has created a justice crisis in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory that warrants action.” It is a self
evident truth that law becomes meaningless if not enforced.
 
The conflict in Israel-Palestine extends beyond its territorial
boundaries and must be regarded as a matter of concern to the entire
international community. The consequences of continued impunity,
occurring under the glare of the world’s media, have widespread global
implications, undermining faith in international justice and its ability
to protect civilians. No State should be allowed to act above the law.
 
While this tragedy takes place, the first Review Conference of the
International Criminal Court (ICC) opens in Kampala, Uganda. On this
historic occasion the entire international community, at the presence of
UN higher authorities, is celebrating international justice’s most
important achievement. The Court is the result of over 50 years of
struggle to enforce international law through accountability; it was
celebrated as the means to uphold the rule of law, to move from war to
law.
 
Through the ICC the international community aims to put an end to
impunity for the gravest crimes. Speaking at the opening of the ICC
Review Conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and ICC Prosecutor
Louis-Moreno Ocampo, stated that ‘no one is beyond reach’: perpetrators
of international crimes must be held to account, regardless of their
rank or nationality. International crimes must no go unpunished.
 
Speaking from the venue of the Conference in Kampala the UN
Secretary General strongly condemned Israel's attack on the humanitarian
flottilla to Gaza. States delegates declared themselves shocked and
outraged by the killings. Everybody urged for a strong reaction at the
international level. The UN Security Council immediately called an
emergency session on the incident.
 
Our international legal order has all the instruments at disposal
to ensure that these declarations do not remain - once again - dead
words sadly condemned to fade on paper.
 
For more than one and a half year, following Israel's military
attack on Gaza of December 2008-January 2009, the ICC Prosecutor has
been closely monitoring the events in the OPT and examining the
possibility of opening an investigation into the situation. The UN
Security Council can accelerate the process and  refer the situation to
the Court, triggering its jurisdiction regardless of the territoriality
and nationality links. The ICC Review Conference is a unique opportunity
for the international community to take a concrete step towards
upholding the rule of law.
 
We want Kampala to be remembered as the place where justice
triumphed over politics.
 
Therefore, the undersigned organizations call for the illegal
closure of the Gaza Strip to be immediately lifted and urge:
  • The ICC Prosecutor to make an urgent determination regarding the
    opening of an investigation into the situation in the OPT.
  • The UN Secretary General: to urgently address the UN Security
    Council with respect to the ongoing impunity crisis in Israel and the
    OPT in order to engage all appropriate international mechanisms.
  • The UN Security Council: to refer the situation to the ICC.
  • All States Parties to the ICC: to take all appropriate measure,
    at the diplomatic and legal levels, to uphold the rule of law in the OPT
  • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: to urgently visit the
    Gaza Strip.
  • Israel to comply with their international legal obligation and
     cooperate with investigative authority.

Signatories:

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)
 
International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH)
 
Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR, USA)
 
Turkish Coalition for the ICC
 
Track Impunity Always (TRIAL)
 
Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists
 
Gender Justice Initiative
 
Fondazione Internazionale Lelio Basso (Italy)
 
Cairo Institute for Human Rights
 
University College Dublin, (Ireland)
 
Africa Freedom of Information Centre
 
Uganda Joint Christian Council
 
Human Rights Network – Uganda
 
Uganda Women and Children Organisation (UWCO)
 
Hope After Rape (HAR, Uganda)
 
Disabled Women’s Network & Resource Organisation in Uganda
(DWMRO)
 
Cameroon Coalition for Human Rights
 
Iranian Islamic Human Rights Commission
 
Kituo Cha Sheria (Kenya)
 
Coalition for Justice and Accountability (Sierra Leone)
 
Colombian Comission of Jurists
 
Network Movement for Democracy Human Rights (NMDHR, Sierra Leone)
 
Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights
 
Indonesian Civil Society Coalition for the ICC (ICSLCC)
 
Ligue pour la Paix et les Droits de l’Homme (LIPADHO, DRC)
 
Synergie des ONG’s Congolaise pour les Victimes (SYCOVI, DRC)
 
Femme pour la Paix, le Developpement et les Droit de l’Homme (DRC)
 
Sierra Leone Coalition for the ICC
 
Association Espanola De Derecho International De Derechos Humanos
(AEDIDH)
 
Justice Without Frontiers
 
Lebanese Centre for International Law and Human Rights
 
La Coalition Marocain Pour La Cour Penal Internationale
 
Institute for Justice and Reconciliation
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The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

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