Imprisoned Palestinian Lawyer Makes Submission to the International Criminal Court

Civil society and human organizations welcomed a communication submitted to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on behalf of 37-year-old, Palestinian-French and human rights defender, and lawyer, Salah Hamouri, which details years of persecution and new tactics to forcibly transfer Palestinians from occupied Jerusalem. The Center for Constitutional Rights and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) submitted the communication on Mr. Hamouri’s behalf in the context of the OTP’s ongoing investigation into the Situation in the State of Palestine.

Freedom for Salah Hamouri (Photo: L’Humanite)

The communication, addressed to ICC prosecutor Karim A. A. Khan, sets out the prolonged persecution campaign perpetrated by the Israeli authorities targeting Att. Hamouri since he was 15 years old, including intense harassment, repeated arbitrary detention, and the denial of his fundamental rights, including the right to family and family unity; freedom of movement; the freedom of association, assembly, expression and the right to protest; the right to pursue a livelihood; and the right to citizenship. The latest in this series of attacks was the revocation of his Jerusalem residency and placing him under administrative detention subject to indefinite renewals.

On 3 September 2020, Hamouri was notified of the Israeli Minister of Interior’s decision to revoke his permanent Jerusalem residency because of a “breach of allegiance” to the State of Israel, as stipulated under the amendment to the Entry into Israel Law. A year later, on 18 October 2021, his residency was indeed revoked, the basis of which is based on secret “information” undermining and fundamentally violating his right to due process and a fair trial. On 7 March 2022, about 25 occupation soldiers arrested Hamouri from his apartment in Kufr Aqab north of Jerusalem. Two days later, he was placed under a three-month administrative detention on the basis of “secret information.”

The revocation of Hamouri’s residency and the denial of his fundamental rights because he is Palestinian constitutes a direct act of forcible transfer, which is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and amounts to a war crime, as well as crimes against humanity of persecution and apartheid under the Rome Statute of the ICC.

The communication explains that Israel’s attacks on Hamouri are part of a larger attack on Palestinian residents of Jerusalem in particular, and Palestinians living in occupied Palestine at large, including with regard to Israel’s policy of forcible transfer and persecution. The communication urges Prosecutor Khan to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, Fatou Bensouda, who had formally issued statements in response to the two forcible transfer cases of Sheikh Jarrah and Khan al-Ahmar, as, since then, there has been no public statements from the OTP on the status of the investigation in the Situation in Palestine – or on the continued commission of crimes in the territory of Palestine, including in East Jerusalem. It further urges Prosecutor Khan to prioritize the Palestine investigation and proceed to the issuance of arrest warrants.