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Letter: Canada must support the ICC

"Canada has a demonstrated reputation and record as a leader with respect to international criminal justice"

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Senior Cabinet members

 I write to urge your government to issue a public statement unequivocally affirming the prosecutorial and judicial independence of the Court as the investigations and proceedings advance in the situation in Palestine. In line with its unambiguous obligations of cooperation as a member-state of the ICC, this should include a clear statement that any arrest warrants issued by the Court against leaders of the Israeli government and senior Hamas officials will be enforced should any suspects arrive on Canadian territory.

Canada has a demonstrated reputation and record as a leader with respect to international criminal justice and the role of the ICC in upholding universal human rights and preventing mass atrocities. The Canadian government played a central role in the establishment of the ICC and made it clear that the Court would be focused on the accountability of individuals for their decisions and actions, regardless of their governmental or organizational affiliation.

No country, no armed group, no corporation and no individual can be allowed to stand above or apart from the law. Nothing undermines justice more – at a national or international level – than double standards and exceptionalism. This commitment must be at the core of Canada’s ICC position and foreign policy.

We urge you, therefore, to issue a clear statement of support for the work of the ICC with respect to the situation in Palestine, which includes the following key elements:

·         Canada fully respects the ICC, unequivocally embraces the Court’s independence, and unconditionally supports the work of the Court in this matter, including investigations of alleged crimes committed by both Israeli and Hamas officials.

·         Canada will fully cooperate with the ICC in the Palestine situation, in keeping with Canada’s obligations under the Rome Statute,3including providing any assistance requested with respect to evidence and witnesses, and executing arrest warrants if any individuals sought by the Court come within Canadian jurisdiction.

·         Canada condemns any threats made against ICC personnel in connection with this situation, or any situations or cases pursued by the Court, and specifically calls on all actors, both at home and abroad, to refrain from imposing or threatening to impose any sanctions or taking any other retaliatory measures against judges and court staff.

·         Canada resolutely agrees that universality is a cardinal principle of international justice. No one should be excluded from accountability for crimes under international law, regardless of their nationality, political status, power and influence, or whether they serve in a democratic, autocratic or dictatorial government, or are part of an armed group.

·         Canada calls on all governments, particularly those of ICC member states, to make similar expressions of unwavering support for and commitment to cooperate fully with the ICC, in relation to this and all matters under investigation or before the court.

The ICC has had Canada since its beginning, and during the course of previous conflicts, not only as a supporter but as a strong advocate. I look forward to hearing further from you, Prime Minister, by means of a strong public statement about this matter, in line with these recommendations. 


Phillip Little