PSNA puts New Zealand govt ‘on notice’ over breaches of Genocide Convention claim


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Asia Pacific Report

A pro-Palestinian advocacy group has put the New Zealand government “on notice” over its alleged complicity with Israel’s genocidal war in Gaza now in its eighth month.

Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (PSNA) issued the government a “letter of demand” today for what it claims to be the government’s breaches of international law, and individual criminal liability under the Genocide Convention.

The PSNA said in the letter that “with the support of the Palestinian community,
human rights advocates, and community organisations, [we] hereby raise our concerns as to Aotearoa’s breaches of international law in relation to the unfolding situation in Gaza, as well as the individual criminal liability which may attach to New Zealand Government Ministers, Members of Parliament and other officials for aiding and abetting international crimes committed by Israel, including genocide, pursuant to the Rome Statute.

“This letter hereby puts you on notice for any relevant breach of the New Zealand domestic law or international law.”

PSNA’S National chair John Minto said that “in writing this letter to you, we have engaged the assistance of several legal experts, students, academics, and human rights advocates.”

In a separate explanatory statement, Minto said the letter of demand “signals our intent with the support of members of the Palestinian community to pursue legal accountability for the lack of actions taken by the government, and key government ministers, in their roles.

“PSNA is deeply concerned about New Zealand failing to uphold our legal responsibilities under the Genocide Convention which requires the government to take actions that ‘prevent and punish the crime of genocide’.”

The letter was addressed to nine cabinet ministers, including Prime Minister Christopher Luxon.

The other ministers are Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters, Attorney-General Judith Collins, Immigration Minister Erica Standford, Regulation Minister David Seymour, Trade Minister and Associate Foreign Affairs Minister Todd McClay, Minister for Women Nicola Grigg, Associate Minister of Immigration Casey Costello, and Associate Minister of Defence Chris Penk.

‘We have never seen anything like this’: UN Commission of Inquiry head  Video: Al Jazeera

NZ’s obligations
The letter stated that New Zealand’s obligations under international law were:

  1. Its responsibility under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention) to prevent and to punish the ongoing genocide in Gaza;
  2. Its obligation pursuant to the Geneva Conventions to ensure respect for international humanitarian law; and
  3. Its obligations under customary international law to cooperate with other states to bring an end Israel’s ongoing serious breaches of peremptory norms, and to refrain from aiding or assisting Israel in those breaches.

Alleged breaches
The PSNA letter alleged the following breaches of international law:

  1. The opening page of the PSNA "letter of "intent" to the New Zealand government
    The opening page of the PSNA “letter of “intent” to the New Zealand government dated 20 June 2024. Image: Screenshot

    Potential failure to prevent the export of military components for use in weaponry by Israel. Specifically, failure to adequately regulate Rakon Limited (a company based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland) regarding the export of components to the United States for use in military equipment, which may be being used in Israel’s genocide;

  2. Sending New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel to train alongside Israel Defence Forces during the US-led Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) military exercises beginning on 26 June 2024;
  3. Sending NZDF personnel to assist in United States and United Kingdom-led military operations against the Houthis in Yemen, with the effect of suppressing regional protest against Israel’s genocide in Gaza;
  4. Withholding approval for funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA);
  5. Failure to provide humanitarian visas to Palestinians in Gaza who have family members in Aotearoa (by contrast with the 2022 Special Ukraine Visa for Ukrainians fleeing from war);
  6. Failure to take any measures of retortion against Israel, such as expelling diplomats or suspending diplomatic relations;
  7. Continuing to allow shipping company ZIM to use New Zealand ports;
  8. Failure to suspend the Israel Working Holiday Visa for Israeli citizens who have served with the Israel Defence Forces carrying out international crimes;
  9. Relatedly, failure to implement a ban on investments in, and imports from, companies building and maintaining illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land in line with UN Security Council resolution 2334 (UNSC2334 was co-sponsored at the UN Security Council by New Zealand in 2016); and
  10. Failure to engage with proceedings in the genocide case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and failing to denounce Israel’s breaches of ICJ rulings, most notably by illegally continuing its military assault on Rafah.

Minto concluded the detailed 39-page letter including supporting appendices by saying, “It is not too late for Aotearoa to hold Israel to account and to help bring an end to its impunity, and its atrocities.

“New Zealand must defend the international rule of law. We may rely upon it ourselves one day.”

PSNA plans to take further steps if it fails to get a “meaningful response” from the government and the relevant ministers by 18 July 2024.

Cafe Pacific Publisher
Cafe Pacific Publisher
Café Pacific's duty editor.
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