“Minister, I ask your government to support the request to refer this case to the ICC,” wrote NDP foreign affairs critic Heather Macpherson in a letter to Global Affairs minister Melanie Joly. “We can not and should not rely on the Israeli military to investigate itself.” Read more….
The Palestinian Authority and the Aljazeera network have called for an investigation by the International Criminal Court into the killing of Journalist Shareen Abu Akleh. “According to Article 8 of the Charter of the International Criminal Court, targeting war correspondents, or journalists working in war zones or occupied territories by killing or physically assaulting them, is a war crime“, notes the news network.
And now pressure is mounting on the Canadian government to support the move.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims has sent a letter to Mme Joly urging that “Canada recognize the jurisdiction of the International Ciminal Court in the investigation of the killing of Shireen Abu Aqla”.
A similar letter was sent by the Executive Minister of the United Church of Canada urging that “Canada denounce and call for an independent investigation into the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.”
A number of Palestinian human rights organizations in Canada have also joined in. “What we actually need is an independent and international investigation, preferably at the level of the International Criminal Court,” said Michael Bueckert, vice president of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East.
At first, Israel tried to suggest that it may have been Palestinians themselves who had killed Abu Akleh, but when evidence provided by CNN and others clearly showed that she was targed by an Israeli sniper, it backed down. It undertook a new approach – saying it would undertake a “thorough investigation itself”. But given the history of coverups of the murders of Palestinian journalists, that approach too quickly was discredited by the international community.
More recently, there have been some proposals from some US politicians for the US to get involved in an investigation.
But this would not constitute a real “independent, international investigation” according to Diana Buttu, a Palestinian Canadian who is a former legal adviser to the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas.
Buttu had known the slain journalist for more than two decades, she wrote in an article in the New York Times. In conversation from her home in Haifa, she told CTIP that “The investigation of the Israeli shooting of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akla should be referred to an independent organization like the International Criminal Court. Not to the Israelis, nor to their US allies”
Canada’s official reaction has been – well – inadequate. So far, Minister Joly has limited herself to saying “my heart is with her family and those that have followed her work” and calling for “thorough” investigation but not supporting an independent investigation under the auspices of the ICC.
As Israel becomes more and more violent in its repression of Palestinians, official Canada is in a dilemma: How to continue to protect Israel while claiming to support human rights around the world. Canada was one of the originators of the International Criminal Court.
Even though our Ambassador to the UN, Bob Rae has a senior position at the ICC, Canada continues to oppose allowing the ICC to investigate this or other possible war crimes in the West Bank on the grounds that Palestine is not a “state”.
What do do?
CTIP readers who are embarassed by the Canadian reaction (or lack of it) can express their feelings by writing Prime Minister Trudeau (firstname.lastname@example.org), copying others, (eg. email@example.com) and your local member of parliament (first name.last firstname.lastname@example.org). Even more important, copy your family and friends. They may not know about how Canada is holding back.
All you have to say in your email is “Canada should support an independent investigation by the ICC of the killing of Palestinian journalist Shareen Abu Aqleh.”
Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.
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