Australian Prime Minister referred to ICC for being “an accessory to genocide in Gaza”

The situation in Gaza

Published 7 March 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Anthony Albanese is accused of aiding and abetting Israeli crimes in Gaza.

A 92-page document signed by more than 100 Australian lawyers has been submitted to the International Criminal Court, accusing Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of being “an accessory to genocide in Gaza”.

The submission, made by law firm Birchgrove Legal, makes Mr Albanese “the first leader of a Western nation to be referred to the ICC under Article 15 of the Rome Statute”.

The team says it has spent months “documenting the alleged complicity and outlining the individual criminal responsibility of Mr Albanese in respect to the situation in Palestine”.

According to the lawyers, the document contains a series of actions by the Prime Minister and other ministers and MPs that they want the ICC prosecutor to investigate.

Among other things, it points out that the Australian government froze $6 million in funding to the main aid agency in Gaza (UNRWA) “amid a humanitarian crisis based on unsubstantiated claims by Israel after the International Court of Justice had found it plausibly to be committing genocide in Gaza”.

It also accuses the country’s leaders of providing military assistance and authorising military exports to Israel that can be used by the Israeli military to commit genocide and crimes against humanity.

“Unequivocal support”

It also points out that the Australian government has “ambiguously deploying an Australian military contingent to the region, where its location and exact role have not been disclosed”; allowed Australians “either explicitly or implicitly” to travel to Israel to join the Israeli army and participate in its attacks on Gaza; and provided “unequivocal political support for Israel’s actions, as evidenced by the political statements of the PM and other members of Parliament, including the Leader of the Opposition”.

But Mr Albanese rejected the ICC complaint, saying“it clearly has no credibility going forward“.

– I don’t think that peaceful resolution is advanced by misinformation, and there has been substantial amounts of misinformation about what is occurring, he says.

“Criminal liability”

Sheryn Omeri, who is leading the legal team, says the case is significant because it focuses on two types of so-called “accessorial liability”.

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– In relation to accessorial liability, a person may be criminally responsible for a crime set out in the Rome Statute if, for the purpose of facilitating the commission of that crime, that person aids, abets or otherwise assists in the commission of the crime, or its attempted commission, including by providing the means for its commission.

– Secondly, if that person in any other way contributes to the commission of the crime or its attempted commission by a group, knowing that the group intends to commit the crime.

The Rome Statute is the treaty on which the International Criminal Court (ICC) is based. It was adopted in 1998 and came into force four years later. The Statute gives the UN court jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. The stated aim of the treaty is to ensure that the most serious international crimes do not go unpunished.

124 Member States have signed the Rome Statute, which gives the ICC a limited mandate to investigate and prosecute individuals for the four international crimes in situations where the national judicial systems of the States concerned are 'unable' or 'unwilling' to do so.