The temporary suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine by several countries of the European Union, considered a victory by many anti-vaccines, would have almost made us forget: two days earlier, it was for another symbolic success, much more questionable however, that they congratulated each other.
The International Criminal Court (ICC, known as the Hague tribunal) would have ruled admissible a complaint – in reality a communication, that is to say a report of suspicion of a crime under international law, which the ICC can seize – for “Violation of the Nuremberg code by the Israeli government”. Signed by Israeli lawyers Ruth Makhacholovsky and Aryeh Suchowolski, it considers that mass vaccination with the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine is a matter of “Medical experience”, which exceeds “Informed consent” of citizens, two pillars of the Nuremberg Code, and calls for a “Immediate stop” of its use.
Very shared on social networks since its takeover by FranceEvening on March 13, this lawsuit actually has very little legal basis. But the communication coup is successful. Explanations.
What is the Nuremberg Code?
The Nuremberg Code is a set of principles of medical ethics that were defined on the sidelines of the Nuremberg trial, during the trial of Nazi class B war criminals (scientists and doctors). In particular, it establishes a list of ten criteria making it possible to make experiments on humans acceptable. Among these, the informed consent of the citizen, the existence of a benefit for society, or even prudence.
Contrary to what its name suggests, it was not drafted during the Nuremberg trials – devoted to class A criminals – but during the trials of class B criminals by the US military tribunal. It has above all a symbolic value, believes Muriel Ubéda-Saillard, associate professor in public law, director of the master’s 2 international criminal justice at the University of Lille:
“It is interesting because at this time the American judges became aware of the ethical dimension that should be imposed on medical progress and science – because these experiments were taking place in the name of science, but without the consent of the subjects, who were interned in concentration camps. “
Does it have a legal value greater than that of national health law?
No, and for good reason: it is a set of recommended ethical principles but not a legal text itself. “What we call the ‘Nuremberg code’ doesn’t exist”, sweeps Bérangère Taxil, professor of international law at the University of Angers: these principles “Were taken out of jurisprudence on crimes against humanity. It is a construction of health ethics by physicians themselves. But [d’un point de vue juridique] there is no text, no code ”. Moreover, it does not form part of any body of legally binding rules in international law, and has no more legal weight in France than in Israel.
In the field of health, there is indeed a supranational text having a binding legal value, but it is the convention for the protection of human rights and the dignity of the human being with regard to the applications of biology and medicine, known as the “Oviedo Convention”, which entered into force in 1999. It applies to the twenty-nine countries which have ratified it, to which most of the European countries and the great Western powers belong, but not Israel. For the rest, national law prevails.
Even if it had legal value, would it be applicable to public health campaigns?
No, says Stéphanie Dagron, professor of law at the University of Geneva, specialist in international, European and national health law: “This is not an experiment or a clinical trial. The vaccines used have received marketing authorization, although an accelerated procedure was used. “
The only legal issue, in his view, concerns the protection of citizens’ health data, which is partly transmitted to Pfizer.
Is it true that the complaint was deemed “admissible” by the ICC?
No. This assertion widely repeated in mid-March is erroneous: the ICC simply sent an acknowledgment of receipt, as it does for the thousand communications sent to it each year, specifies the institution, quoted by Release. FranceEvening has since corrected his article.
What are the chances that the ICC will really find the complaint admissible?
For Stéphanie Dagron, these are “Void”, vaccination is outside the jurisdiction of the court. “The ICC has jurisdiction over the gravest crimes of all, such as the elimination of an entire people – genocide – or war crimes such as the massacre of civilians, or the forced recruitment of child soldiers, and systematic acts of persecution. It is off the mark “, confirms Bérangère Taxil.
Moreover, except for intervention by the United Nations Security Council, the ICC is only competent if the State suspected of being the author or the scene of crimes under international law is a signatory of the Rome Statute at its origin, this which is not the case with Israel.
” On the other hand, shade Muriel Ubéda-Saillard, the situation is different with acts committed in the occupied Palestinian territories, as Palestine is a party to the Rome Statute, and indeed the situation is currently under investigation by the prosecutor’s office. “ But not because of vaccination, which the Jewish state has excluded Palestinian residents from, arguing that under the Oslo peace accords, the Palestinian Authority has sole jurisdiction over health issues.
Why have you filed such a futile communication?
Simple communication, Nuremberg Code without legal existence, International Criminal Court not competent in matters of internal vaccination…: put end to end, the elements of this alleged complaint seem to relate to a form of legal amateurism.
“It is above all political and strategic to appeal [au code de Nuremberg], because it refers to the Shoah, and arouses national and international attention, considers Bérangère Taxil. This is called “strategic litigation”. I don’t think the association thinks for a single second that its complaint is heard and can win. “ It is rather, according to her, a “Pamphlet” to the goal “Purely media” : to talk. On this point, at least, its anti-vaccine authors have succeeded in their operation.