The implications of the Belgian Court of Cassation’s rulings. This report was written before the Belgian Senate approved the new version of Belgium’s war crimes law which dropped the ‘universal competence’ clause.
Read the report here.
On 12th February 2003, the Court of Cassation, the highest Court in Belgium, ruled that Ariel Sharon, Israel’s current Prime Minister, and the man widely charged with sparking the second Palestinian Intifada, after his provocative visit to the temple Mount, could be tried for war crimes after he leaves his position of Prime Minister of Israel. It ruled that the investigation and trial of Sharon could proceed even if he was not physically present in the country. Moreover, it held that action against his co-defendant, Amos Yaron former Israeli Army chief of staff could begin immediately.
The infamous massacre in Sabra and Shatila is imprinted in our collective memory as an atrocious act committed against the Palestinian people. The Belgian Court decision is a landmark ruling making real the possibility of seeking justice and redress for the victims. It marks a turning point in a period of fifty years whereby Israel has been allowed to evade and disregard the international rule of law without consequences, where grave human rights atrocities have been committed by Isreali perpetrators, safe in the knowledge that they could expect impunity.