Amnesty International, already under fire from criticism, persists and signs. “The terrorist does not exist in international law,” insisted the secretary general of the NGO, Agnès Callamard, at the microphone of Franceinfo this Friday, November 10, thus refusing to qualify as such the abuses committed by Hamas against Israel, the October 7 last year. “These controversies are absolutely ridiculous,” she even criticized.
In fact, the controversy has been going on for a week. And for good reason: the president of Amnesty France, Jean-Claude Samouiller, made identical remarks on the LCP set on November 2. He refused to use the term “terrorist” to talk about Hamas, preferring that of “armed group, in this case Palestinian” and guilty of “war crimes”. “Why?” he asked himself live. “Because the term terrorist is not recognized by international law.” However, “for justice to happen, we must qualify things precisely,” he continued.
A rhetoric that is not specific to the famous NGO. La France insoumise, through the voice of its leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, had already adopted this argument, just a few days after the attack by the Islamist group against the Hebrew State. To defend his party's position on Hamas, Jean-Luc Mélenchon then stated: "if we agreed to characterize a war action as terrorist, we would remove it from international law." A legal debate, therefore, but perhaps above all political.
“We are an international organization, we base ourselves on international law, we do not base ourselves on French law or European law. In international law, terrorism has no, no definition,” said Agnès Callamard to explain her position. On this point, the general secretary is not entirely wrong. If the European Union, just like the Organization of American States which brings together a large part of the countries of the American continent, or even France, Canada and Japan recognize Hamas as a “terrorist” organization, this is indeed not not the case of the United Nations. Indeed, “no general consensus has been found between Member States to define this crime” (terrorism), William Julié, an international law lawyer at the Paris bar, already explained to Le Figaro on October 12.
Nevertheless, "if it is true that there is no independent offense of terrorist crime in international law, the fact remains that the notion of terrorism (and incidentally of crime and terrorist organization) does exist well", continued the expert, explaining, for example, that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) considered that "individual acts of terrorism could perfectly fit into the category of war crimes or those crimes against humanity.
In addition, the “terrorist reality” is recognized by international law, summarized the specialist, before deciding on the words of Jean-Luc Mélenchon: “I believe that LFI attracts the debate towards something which is not so much law , but rather falls under the heading of a political declaration.
Indeed, categorically refusing to use the term “terrorism” to describe the massacres which took place on October 7 against Israelis questions certain politicians, such as the Renaissance MEP, Nathalie Loiseau, who protested last week of the identical position of the NGO. “The term terrorist “not recognized in international law”??? Sorry???”, she got angry.
But the Secretary General of Amnesty International also defended herself by affirming that the notion of “terrorism”, in addition to not existing in international law, could be used for bad purposes: “Let us remember that since terrorism has become a war that we are waging, thousands of human rights defenders are currently imprisoned because they are presented as terrorists,” she argued.
Before adding: “We demand the release of journalists, defenders and lawyers who are accused of right-wing terrorism. Terrorism has no legal value, period. It’s a political term.” And faced with the Franceinfo journalist who replied that this qualification was also a word of “clarity”, Agnès Callamard simply replied: “No, not at all”. All the “rest” is “political nonsense”.