Information for victims
On 1 January 2015, the Government of Palestine ("Palestine") lodged a declaration under article 12(3) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (“Rome Statute” and “Court” or “ICC”) accepting the jurisdiction of the Court over alleged crimes committed "in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since June 13, 2014". On 2 January 2015, Palestine acceded to the Rome Statute by depositing its instrument of accession with the UN Secretary-General. The Rome Statute entered into force for Palestine on 1 April 2015.
On 22 May 2018, pursuant to articles 13(a) and 14 of the Rome Statute, Palestine referred the Situation and specifically requested the Prosecutor “to investigate, in accordance with the temporal jurisdiction of the Court, past, ongoing and future crimes within the court's jurisdiction, committed in all parts of the territory of the State of Palestine.”
On 20 December 2019, the Prosecutor announced that following a thorough, independent and objective assessment of the reliable information available to the Office, the preliminary examination into this Situation had concluded with the determination that all the statutory criteria under the Rome Statute for the opening of an investigation had been met. The Prosecutor also clarified that the Office is satisfied that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
On 22 January 2020, the Prosecutor made a request to Pre-Trial Chamber I for a ruling to clarify the territorial scope of the Court's jurisdiction in this Situation, considering the complex legal and factual issues attaching to this situation (“Prosecutor’s Request”).
On 5 February 2021, Pre-Trial Chamber I, after considering the Prosecutor’s Request, as well as submissions from victims, States, organisations and scholars, decided, by majority, that the Court’s territorial jurisdiction in the Situation in Palestine extends to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967 namely Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
On 3 March 2021, the ICC Prosecutor confirmed the initiation of an investigation by the ICC Office of the Prosecutor into the Situation in Palestine.
What is the scope of the investigation into the Palestine Situation?
On 3 March 2021, the Office of the Prosecutor announced that the investigation will cover crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court that are alleged to have been committed in the Situation since 13 June 2014.
Victims’ participatory rights and communication with the Court
The ICC is the first permanent international criminal court which envisages an active role for victims in judicial proceedings. Victims can address the Court already during an investigation by the Prosecutor, in terms of their rights to participate in potential future judicial proceedings, and to receive reparations in case of a conviction.
At the current investigation stage, victims can communicate with the Court in a number of ways:
- Any individual, group or State can send information to the Office of the Prosecutor regarding any alleged crimes in the State of Palestine falling under the jurisdiction of the Court. Persons with such information, including affected communities of the situation, can communicate to the Office of the Prosecutor any relevant information for the purposes of the investigation on the following dedicated portal.
- Victims of violence in Palestine that may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity may also reach out to the Court with a view to being recognized as victims for the purposes of participation in potential future criminal proceedings against one or more suspects.
For more information relating to these rights before the ICC, victims can contact the Victims Participation and Reparations Section ("VPRS") - the section within the ICC Registry responsible for assisting victims in the process of applying for participation in judicial proceedings, and reparations in case of a conviction, at [email protected].
Relevant application forms for victims to participate in potential future proceedings as above can be found on the ICC’s general victim page under the heading ‘Participation’ (underneath the case-specific blue boxes), alongside relevant guidelines. Relevant links are provided hereunder for ease of reference.
Please note that before filling in a victim application form, it is advised that you contact the VPRS so that you can be provided with information and advice as to what participation in ICC proceedings generally entails, and what this means at the current stage of the process as well as potential future stages. In addition, the VPRS provides training and advice as to how to fill in the form correctly (see also the written Guidelines above), which is very important in order for victims' expectations to be met with adequate Registry advice. Please note that any forms received at the investigation stage are generally not yet transmitted to the Pre-Trial Chamber absent any judicial proceedings relating to one or more cases.
Victims’ safety and security
Please note that the security of victims is crucial. It is important to take preventive measures such as avoiding mentioning their involvement with the ICC to others/publicly. It is also important to avoid anything that could expose victims and put them or other people at risk, e.g. talking to the media, posting on social media, etc. about their contacts with the ICC.
GENERAL INFORMATION ON THE ICC
The Court’s Structure
The Court is composed of four organs: (i) the Presidency; (ii) Chambers (Appeals Division, Trial Division, Pre-Trial Division); (iii) the Office of the Prosecutor; and (iv) the Registry. The Office of the Prosecutor acts independently as a separate organ. The Registry is composed of many sections, including the Victims Participation and Reparation Section, the Office of Public Counsel for victims and the Victims and Witnesses Unit.
The Court’s Jurisdiction
The general mission of the ICC is to investigate and, where warranted, prosecute individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression. The Court is participating in a global fight to end impunity, and through international criminal justice, the ICC aims to hold those responsible accountable for their crimes and to help prevent these crimes from happening again.
The ICC does not prosecute States, Governments or political parties. It can only investigate and prosecute natural persons of 18 years of age or above. Its mandate is to investigate and, where warranted, prosecute individuals for their alleged individual criminal responsibility for mass crimes which fall under the ICC jurisdiction.
The Principle of Complementarity
The principle of complementarity is one of the main pillars for the Court’s operation. If a State which has jurisdiction over the situation/case investigates, prosecutes and tries the same person for substantially the same conduct, then the ICC shall defer to the domestic judicial authorities, provided that the State is not unwilling and/or unable to genuinely carry out the proceedings.
The Court does not have police or executive forces who implement the Court’s decisions and orders (such as a warrant of arrest). The ICC is dependent on the States Parties to cooperate fully with the Court. The Court may also invite any State not party to the Rome Statute to provide assistance to the Court.
For further general information on the structure and functioning of the Court, as well as on the crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC please click here.