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South Africa demands 'balanced' ICC investigation on Gaza - excluding Israel


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South Africa demands 'balanced' ICC investigation on Gaza - excluding Israel

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola

7th December 2023

By: News24Wire


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The International Criminal Court (ICC) must investigate and prosecute "in an unbiased and even-handed manner", Justice Minister Ronald Lamola told it on Wednesday, while suggesting that it should not engage with Israel and again ignoring evidence of war crimes by Hamas.

Lamola was speaking in New York at an assembly of the state parties that make up the ICC.


He called for "balanced and unbiased investigation of crimes" and warned that international law could only be credible if applied uniformly. The ICC should "protect its reputation of impartiality at all times", Lamola said, and "must at all times guard its independence jealously". 

But it should not speak to Israel, Lamola suggested, because reaching out to it "raises questions when considered in the context of the ongoing genocide".


Last week, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan again said he had seen clear evidence of war crimes on both sides, with Hamas' 7 October attack representing "some of the most serious international crimes that shock the conscience of humanity".

Attacks on civilians and children are war crimes, as are the disputed types of sexual assaults that Hamas fighters have been accused of.

Khan said he would engage with Israel, despite it not being an ICC member.

There should be no ambiguity, Lamola said; "the tragic actions by the state of Israel we are seeing in Gaza meet the definition of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and even the crime of genocide".

In his speech he did not refer to Hamas at all.

In mid-November, South Africa submitted a referral to the ICC listing what it said were Israel's war crimes. It made no mention of sometimes directly equivalent actions by Hamas.

South Africa found it "striking" that in Russia's war on Ukraine, action had been relatively swift, Lamola said.

"Arrest warrants hover above the heads of some, but yet, when it comes to the State of Palestine, the arrest warrants seem to be an embodiment of a mirage," he said.

Yet SA is committed to the vision to end impunity "and to the ICC as an institution that is central to this project."

South Africa has more than once threatened to withdraw from the ICC on the basis that it disproportionately targeted African leaders, and this year sought ways to avoid executing an ICC arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin.


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