Skip to main content

16 October 2023

Dear Excellencies,

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) is a regional non-governmental organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa. SALC’s mandate is to promote human rights and protect the rule of law in the Southern African region. SALC’s International Justice cluster focuses on fighting impunity for international crimes and holding perpetrators of international crimes accountable.

SALC is seriously concerned by the ongoing reports of violations of international humanitarian law and grave human rights violations in Gaza (Palestine) since 7 October 2023. Atrocities such as the killing and targeting of innocent civilians must be stopped, investigated and prosecuted no matter on which side of this conflict they occurred.

SALC is appalled by statements by Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant stating: “I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel; everything is closed.” He continued, “We are fighting human animals, and we are acting accordingly”. Such dehumanising language has often preceded the crime of genocide in the past and has served as a catalyst for further atrocities. Such statements further show intent to commit war crimes, such as the war crime of starving civilians and/or other crimes under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The numerous reports of bomb and rocket attacks on buildings and infrastructure in Gaza, one of the most densely populated areas in the world, show little regard for core principles of international humanitarian law, such as the one of not attacking civilians under the principle of distinction.

While we welcome the call by African States for a cessation of hostilities and prevention of further escalation, such measures are insufficient to fight impunity for international crimes. The need to fight against impunity and initiate proceedings to hold perpetrators of international crimes accountable must start now.

We, therefore, call on all 33 African Member States to the ICC to use their influence as Member States of the Court and provide technical and political support to the Court to overcome challenges in investigating the situation in Palestine. We further call on all 33 African ICC Member States to use their right under article 14 of the Rome Statute if needed to enable the Prosecutor’s Office to expedite and prioritise these proceedings.

On 3 March 2021, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced the opening of the investigation into the situation in the State of Palestine. This followed a decision by the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC that confirmed that the ICC may exercise its criminal jurisdiction in the situation in Palestine and that the territorial scope of this jurisdiction extends to Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. As long as part of the crime occurs in the territory of an ICC State Party, and there is a territorial link to the ICC State Party, such as Palestine, the ICC has jurisdiction over such conduct.

We further urge all 33 African ICC Member States to use the precedent and momentum that was created by the Ukraine situation, where State support and State referrals by more than 39 ICC State Parties resulted in expedited proceedings and two arrest warrants within 13 months from the time the ICC Prosecutor announced its decision to proceed with opening an investigation into the situation in Ukraine.

In light of the criticism by some African States on the double standards within the ICC system, we, therefore, urge you to use your voice as a signatory of the Rome Statute to correct imbalances you see as a Member State and support the work of the Court. We believe that such action is essential to meet the inherent challenges faced in conducting these investigations and also to overcome political challenges by showing strong support for the ICC investigations in the Palestine situation.

There is no space for double standards in international criminal justice. Without fear or favour, international crimes committed in Palestine must be investigated and prosecuted no matter by whom they were committed. As signatories to the Rome Statute, you committed yourself to the idea of fighting impunity and holding perpetrators of international crimes accountable. Only if the principles of the Rome Statute are applied equally will the ICC’s accountability system have a chance to make a meaningful contribution to the fight against impunity. A lasting peace in the region can only be achieved through accountability and justice.

Yours sincerely,

Southern Africa Litigation Centre

Find the letter here.
French version of the letter here.
If you are interested in endorsing the the letter and participating in the call, please sign here.



Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Church of Southern Africa


Alternative Information and Development Centre, SA

Amnesty International South Africa

Arthurs Dream Autism Foundation, Kenya

Atrocities Watch Africa

Bertha Foundation

Center for Strategic Litigation, Tanzania Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, SA

Centre for Asian Studies in Africa, SA

Centre for Human Rights and Social Advancement (CEFSAN), Nigeria

Centre for Human Rights Education Advice and Assistance (CHREAA), Malawi

Centre for Law and Society (CLS), University of Cape Town, SA

Claremont Main Road Masjid, SA

Coordinating Assembly for Non-Governmental Organizations, Eswatini

Digital Society of Africa, Zimbabwe

Disability, HIV and AIDS Trust (DHAT), Zimbabwe

Foundation for Human Rights in South Africa, SA

Global South Against Xenophobia (GSAX)

Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Traditional Indigenous Council

Health Justice Initiative (HJI), SA

Housing Assembly, SA

Human Rights Institute of South Africa

Iranti, SA

Irish Rule of Law International

Lawyers Alert, Nigeria

Lawyers for Human Rights, SA

Letfu Sonkhe Institute for Strategic Thinking and Development, SA

Medical Rights Advocacy Network (MeRAN), SA

Musjidul Furqaan, Lansdowne, Cape Town

My Vote Counts, SA

Namibia Equal Rights Movement

Ndifuna Ukwazi, SA

Palestinian Solidarity Campaign Cape Town

Pan African Palestine Solidarity Network

People’s Law, SA

PSC Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Reclaim the City, SA

Robinson Temple AME Church, SA

Save Our Sacred Lands, SA

Section27, SA

Seinoli Legal Centre, Lesotho

South African BDS Coalition

South African Jews for A Free Palestine (SAJFP)

Transformation Resource Centre, Lesotho

Uhuru Mbele, SA

UniteBehind, SA

Women With Dignity

Youth and Society (YAS), Malawi

Youth Watch Society (YOWSO), Malawi

Zackie2024 campaign

#PayTheGrants Campaign, SA



Abdul-Aleem Somers

Alan Roberts

Alessandro Gueli

Amy Arthur

Ana-Jose Riley

Ashraf Kagee

Aslam Fataar

Aslam Sathar

Azeem Badroodien

Barbara Hogan

Benjamin Francis André de Kock

Bob Baigrie

Brian Ashley

Bruce Baigrie

Deena Bosch

Disha Govender

Dr Emile Engel

Dr Leanne Brady

Dr Mahmud Soloojee

Dr Nimi Hoffmann

Dr Owiso Owiso

Dr Shuaib Manjra

Dr Steve R Naidoo

Els Torreele

Fatima Hassan

Fatima Umar

Gail Davids

Gavin Collins

Hameda Deedat

Jack Lewis

Jacqui Smit

Jaimin Patel

Jared Sacks

Jemma Rose

Jethro Turyamwesiga

Judy Favish

Julia Hope

Justin Winchester

Kate-Lyn Moore

Katherine Robinson

Keamogetswe Seipato

Krsitene Dee Zincke

Madoda Cuphe

Mandla Mogola

Marlise Richter

Mary de Haas

Maya Rose

Meg Jordi

Mfihlakalo Kubeka

Natasha Msonza

Nick Ferreira

Nqobile Mtshali

Pearl Squires

Peighton Barth

Primah Kwagala

Prof Lucy Edwards-Jauch

Prof Sadiyya Shaikh

Professor Abdulkader Tayob

Qhawe Maxongo

Quorha Johannes

Rashida Manjoo

Rashied Omar

Rasigan Maharajh

Rev Alan Storey

Robert Krause

Rosanna Suter

Roshila Nair

Rui Lopes

Saadiq Soeker

Saajidha Sader

Saara Mowlana

Sani llyas Abdullahi, Esq

Shahieda Adams

Shaniaé Maharaj

Sikhander Coopoo

Stephen Lakey

Steven Lottering

Suhair Solomon

Tefo Mosienyane

Thandi Gamedze

Thato Masiangoako

Tyler Phillips

Tyronne McCrindle

Vanessa Japtha

Vanja Karth

Welile Ndlela

Yumnaa Firfirey

Zackie Achmat

Zaid Manjra

Zaynu Mayet

Ziya Devar

Zoë Fraser

Zohra Dawood

Fadwah Smallberg

Faznuna Miller

Warren Van Rooy

Shaquille Ling

Nishaad Ling

Natasha Stout

Shafiek Stout

Sulaiman Jones

Wafiq Brown

Zubayda Brown

Inshaaf Brown

Elizabeth Daniel’s

James Jones

Amiena Green

Hassiem Green

Kristene Kiewiets

Malanie Hendricks

Elaine Diedericks

Nomfumaneko Mantshi

Wendy Mantshi

Lungisa Mantshi

Anna Marie Dube

Micheal Dube

Chadwyn Khan

Bradley Arendse

Kashiefa Bassadien

Laeeqah Andrews

Quintonia Morris

Dawood Sheik

Fathima Sheik

Amina Sheik

Allaudeen Sheik Rahim

Zubeida Rawoot

Asa Rawoot

Begum Rawoot

Nazly Swartz

Malak Swartz

Waqeel Swartz

Aslaam Shaik

Naasreen Shaik

Haliema Shaik

Tasqia Adams

Reza Adams

Yaeesh Adams

Zuleika Ali

Miriam Ali

Ismail Sheik

Fathima Rehman

Bilal Rehman

Fazal Rehman

Yunus Rehman

Shezadi Rehman

Laeeiga Rehman

Suhail Rahim

Nadjima Rahim

Firdous Sheik Karli

Abdullah Karli

Fagroodien Sheik

Nafeesa Sheik

Rizwana Cassiem

Waseem Cassiem

Humaaira Qadri

Zeenat Qadri

Shafi Qadri

Gulam Hoosen Qadri

Zainab Qadri

Luthfia Sarang

Iqbal Sarang

Faried Solomons

Sedick Davids

Jameelah Davids

Nabeelah Davids

Micah Naeem Davids

Nuraan Davids Easton

Shuaib Davids

Mubeen Davids

Aqeedah Davids

Nurah Easton