EI5: Ata Hindi
End Impunity is asking five international justice advocates from around the world five “simple” questions about their personal connection to the issue and the unique perspective that their region of the world provides them.
1. Why is the issue of international justice important to you?
As a Palestinian, international justice is of obvious utmost importance. After witnessing the crimes committed by the Israeli government against our people, it is understandable that this is a personal conviction for the Palestinian people. The memory of the crimes committed by Israel in Gaza in particular is still fresh in our minds and it will stay that way. We will not be satisfied until the Israeli government is held accountable for their crimes. Our demand is simple – we want justice.
I have also worked on the Middle East and North Africa region for years and there is no greater demand than the demand for human rights and international justice. There are no exceptions. We, as civil society, believe in the cause and we are determined to ensure that it is a success for our generation and generations to come.
There is no doubt in my mind that the ICC and what it stands for remains at the center of the campaign to end impunity for the most heinous crimes. That is why we remain committed to ensuring a fair, effective and independent ICC which will which make people think twice and will work to prevent such heinous crimes.
2. Does the region from where you are from have a particular perspective and attitude towards justice? How has this influenced you?
Yes, of course. Like all Palestinians, growing up in Palestine – particularly in the first years of the Second Palestinian Intifada – the hunger for justice comes natural to us. We come from a region where only two years ago the thought of bringing our oppressors to justice was inconceivable. Now, it is becoming a reality.
Throughout the region, we have seen the fall of many of these perpetrators. Unfortunately, in some cases, such as in Yemen and Syria, these perpetrators have not had to answer for their crimes committed against their own people. Nevertheless, we remain optimistic that soon, they will have to answer to their people. We are witnessing revolutionary changes in the region. We must do our part and be part of that revolution which ensures the protection of our rights.
3. What are some successes and some failures of the International Criminal Court?
After only ten years, I would be quite hesitant to categorize the successes and failures of the Court. The fact that it is still up and running, investigating and prosecuting some of the world’s most heinous crimes is success enough. There was a time when the idea of the ICC was inconceivable as well.
On the other hand, I would not fully agree with the Court’s inabilities to tackle investigations and prosecutions in other parts of the world. Obviously, I have many reservations with the decisions, as well as the inability of the Court, to move forward with certain preliminary examinations including Palestine, Colombia and Afghanistan. Yet they Court is here to stay and we can hope that where civil society believes the Court has fallen short, justice will eventually be served.
4. Who are some of the perpetrators of mass crimes that you think should be indicted by the ICC? Do you think it will ever happen? Why?
I hope that there will come a time where States in the region join the ICC so as to implement the Rome Statute in their national systems. The Court was established to be a court of last resort, where States have the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Unfortunately, we are not there yet. The Court remains the only possible option to try these perpetrators. The fact remains that since the Court’s existence, these heinous crimes have been committed in the region. These perpetrators are not within the reach of the ICC. As such, I can only State the obvious – that victims in Darfur, Palestine and Syria deserve to see their oppressors brought before the Court. I believe in the Court and what it can achieve and I will always remain optimistic. On that note, I would say that times are changing and it is only a matter of time before that happens. The status quo cannot hold for much longer.
5. How can the regular citizen from around the world play a part in the fight for international justice?
Pushing for their own government’s support and engagement with the Court. The Court was established with the idea that it would be represented by all States – it is still en route to that goal.
States must represent the will of their citizens. I can say that in the region, we are steadfast in the fight against impunity. We want to strengthen this system and – particularly over the past couple of years – many States are now representing that will. Our ultimate aim must be to push our governments and our legislators to play an active and effective role in the fight. We are no longer working from the top-down, but the bottom-up and we ourselves must play an active and effective role in making our governments represent the our will in joining the fight for international justice.
Ata Hindi has formerly worked as Middle East, North Africa and Europe Outreach Liaison for the Coalition for the ICC. He also worked as Legal Investigator with the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry. He holds an MS in Global Affairs and a BA in Political Science from Rutgers University.