Nicaragua takes Germany to court over ‘facilitating genocide’ in Gaza

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The authoritarian government of Nicaragua accused Germany of “facilitating genocide” in Gaza at the opening of a politically charged case at the UN’s top court on Monday.

Carlos José Argüello Gómez, Nicaragua’s representative to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, said Germany had violated the 1948 Genocide Convention by supplying Israel with weapons and other types of aid, arguing that doing so contravened an earlier ruling of the court.

In a landmark decision in January, the ICJ handed down an interim judgment stating there were plausible grounds for a case of genocide to be heard against Israel. It ordered the Israeli government to comply with a series of measures relating to its war in Gaza, where Palestinian health officials say more than 33,000 have died since the offensive began. UN authorities say 1.7mn have been displaced from their homes.

“There can be no question that Germany . . . was well aware, and is well aware, of at least the serious risk of genocide being committed,” Argüello Gómez said, in his opening statement to a 16-judge panel. “Germany is failing to honour its own obligation to prevent genocide or to ensure respect of international humanitarian law.”

The leftwing Nicaraguan government has historic links with Palestine, dating back to its 1979 Sandinista revolution, which was supported by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation.

The regime of president Daniel Ortega was accused in February by a UN-appointed body of experts of “systemic” politically driven human rights violations that were “tantamount to crimes against humanity”.

The US has also criticised the way Ortega “awarded himself a fourth consecutive term” in 2021 elections after jailing opposition figures, barring any alternative parties from participating and “committing widespread electoral fraud”.

The German government is due to present its legal response to Nicaragua’s allegations in court on Tuesday.

Berlin has staunchly denied the charges brought against it.

Germany’s foreign ministry said the government was “relaxed” about its legal standing and had prepared a robust defence, in collaboration with international legal experts from the UK and Italy.

“We reject Nicaragua’s accusations and would like to make it clear that we have not violated either the Genocide Convention nor international humanitarian law. We will convincingly demonstrate this to the court,” it said.

Germany emerged as one of Israel’s most vocal supporters in the wake of the surprise attack by Hamas on October 7, during which militants killed 1,200 people and took another 250 hostage, according to Israeli officials.

Citing its historic responsibility towards defending the Jewish state, in atonement for the crimes of the holocaust, Germany ramped up weapons deliveries to support Israel’s military retaliation in the weeks following the attack.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledged to give Israel “whatever support is needed”.

Although Germany has continued to emphasise Israel’s right to self-defence, the government’s stance has moderated in recent weeks as the death toll in Gaza has mounted and Israel has become increasingly isolated internationally.

“The humanitarian situation in Gaza is hell,” German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said last month.

Nicaragua’s application to the ICJ seeks a series of interim injunctions that would halt any further German weapons shipments to Israel.

Although even an interim ruling by the ICJ on Nicaragua’s case against Germany is likely weeks away, its content could have a wide-ranging impact on other countries supplying Israel that are signatories to the Genocide Convention — many of which are already under mounting pressure to act.

Last week three British former supreme court judges signed a letter with over 600 other UK lawyers warning that further military aid to Israel, given the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza caused by Israeli bombing, could make the country complicit in potential genocide.

Additional reporting by Michael Stott in London

Via

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