Rights group warns Canada officials of prosecution for complicity in alleged Isr…

The International Centre for Justice for Palestinians’ (ICJP) Canadian legal working group on Thursday issued Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, Minister of National Revenue Marie-Claude Bibeau and Minister of Justice and Arif Virani with a notice of intention to seek the prosecution of Canadian politicians if they are complicit in alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

In the letter, lawyers Shane Martínez and Asaf Rashid say, “The Government of Canada is aware that actions taken by Israel since 7 October have already been reported as constituting serious breaches of international criminal law, international humanitarian law and international human rights law.” The letter further highlighted the dire situation unfolding in Gaza and relayed accusations of war crimes committed by Israel, including claims surrounding the indiscriminate killing and injuring of civilians, destruction of residential housing blocks and the use of white phosphorus munitions. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has previously said that the well-being of Gaza’s civilians is a priority and denied using white phosphorus in Gaza.

The group also drew attention to Israel’s airstrikes in refugee camps, attacks on ambulances and hospitals and the evacuation order issued to 1.2 million people in northern Gaza. Israel has maintained that Hamas uses ambulances to transport weapons and operates out of civilian hospitals.

The ICJP emphasizes Canada’s duties and responsibilities under international criminal law, suggesting that support provided to perpetrators of international crimes can be investigated and prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and third-party states under the principles of universal jurisdiction. It includes a stark warning to the Canadian government that officials may be liable if they are found to have aided and abetted the commission of war crimes in violation of Article 25(3)(c) and (d) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The Canadian government has not acknowledged the letter or issued statements in response.

In response to an ICC complaint from three other Palestinian groups, a spokesperson for Israel’s foreign ministry told Reuters, “Israel is also collecting evidence for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by Hamas during the Oct. 7 attack (on Israel) and afterwards, including the use of civilians as human shields (in Gaza).”

Families of October 7 attack victims filed their own ICC complaint last week, accusing Hamas of war crimes and genocide. At the time, their lawyer said that, “Hamas terrorists do not deny the crimes committed, which they have amply documented and broadcast … facts cannot therefore be disputed.”