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ICC and Palestine - a long way to go

Screenshot of interactive ICC map January 2015
(Joe Dyke/IRIN)

On 16 January, the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, announced it had opened a preliminary examination into possible war crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory since 13 June 2014, encapsulating last summer's conflict between Israel and Gaza. But prosecutions are unlikely or at least a long way off.

Since the court began operating in 2002, it has opened 21 cases in eight countries but to date only two people have been convicted: Thomas Lubanga Dyilo and Germain Katanga.

It has issued 35 indictments, but three of the accused passed away before they could be apprehended while many others remain at large.

Search and explore IRIN's interactive map on ICC examinations, indictments and convictions worldwide at: http://newirin.irinnews.org/extras/2015/1/19/palestine-and-the-icc-a-long-way-to-go

A preliminary examination is not an investigation; it is an examination of whether the court has a reasonable basis to proceed with a full investigation. It considers issues of jurisdiction, admissibility, and interests of justice. Including the occupied Palestinian territory, the court now has nine preliminary examinations open and nine so-called "active" investigations.

Four previous preliminary examinations have failed to make it to "active"status, while others have been effectively suspended for years. Among the four cases was one previous Palestinian bid in 2009 that was rejected because Palestine was not a "state" under the terms of the Rome Statute.

Following the UN General Assembly's recognition of Palestine as non-Member Observer State in 2012 and the Palestinian leadership's decision to join the ICC last month, the Palestinians have made a fresh bid.

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