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Rapport du Comité d'experts indépendants sur les suites données au "rapport Goldstone" - Dialogue avec le Conseil des droits de l'homme - Communiqué de presse Français
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21 March 2011



Council Holds Interactive Dialogue with Committee of Independent Experts
on Follow-up to Recommendations in the Goldstone Report

The Human Rights Council this morning held an interactive dialogue with the Committee of Independent Experts in international humanitarian and human rights law established pursuant to Council Resolution 13/9. The Committee was mandated to monitor and assess any domestic, legal or other proceedings undertaken by both the Government of Israel and the Palestinian side in the context of the follow-up to the report of the International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, the Goldstone report.

In presenting the report of the Committee of Independent Experts, Mary McGowan Davis, Chairperson of the Committee, said that the Committee had carried out its work under considerable challenges and constraints, in particular as the Committee had not travelled to the West Bank or Gaza and had been unable to meet with a number of people who could have supplied first hand and updated information as to the status and impact of investigations and legal proceedings undertaken by the respective parties into the violations alleged in the report of the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. Ms. McGowan Davis said that the Government of Israel refused to cooperate with any aspect of what it called the “Goldstone process” and expressed gratitude to the Palestinian Authority for the extensive cooperation provided throughout the term.

Ms. McGowan Davis went on to say that Israel had dedicated significant resources to investigating over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza, but given the scale of this undertaking, much remained to be accomplished. There was no indication that Israel had opened investigations into the actions of those who designed, planned, ordered and oversaw Operation Cast Lead as called for by the Fact-Finding Mission report. The Committee of Independent Experts noted the efforts of the Palestinian Authority and said that the Council of Ministers had established a Ministerial Committee with a mandate to issue recommendations about implementation of the report of the Palestinian Independent Investigation Commission. With regard to the de facto authorities in Gaza, the Committee acknowledged that they had made efforts to provide specific information concerning criminal investigations into alleged human rights violations committed by their security forces. However, there had been no investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.

Speaking as a concerned country, Israel said that every day over one million Israelis in southern Israel remained under a constant state of attack. Qassam rockets, missiles and mortar attacks indiscriminately fired by Palestinian militants were intentionally directed towards innocent men, women and children. From the beginning of 2011 alone, over 150 of these attacks had brought destruction in southern Israel and put the lives of millions of Israeli civilians at risk. In her press release of 11 February the High Commissioner for Human Rights had asserted that the militants firing the rockets were committing war crimes and continuously terrorizing civilians. Nevertheless, the Human Rights Council had continued to refrain from concretely addressing these attacks against the Israeli people. Why was this clear-cut issue of human rights not worthy of the time of this body? Why was it not speaking out in a clear manner to stand with civilians under such a threat? The silence from this Council was perfectly heard and understood by the people of Israel.

Also speaking as a concerned country, Palestine said that as usual Israel continued to use lies and false allegations, and a recent criminal act carried out against an Israeli family was not part of the Palestinian culture, not as Arabs, not as Christians and not as Muslims, but rather this was the culture of the occupying power. Palestine thanked the Committee of Independent Experts for all the efforts they had made in discharging their mandate and welcomed the report, which reflected the forms of the investigations undertaken by Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority had formed an independent Palestinian commission of inquiry, which had started its investigation according to international standards in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank.

During the interactive dialogue speakers said that Israel had not cooperated with the Committee nor had it allowed access by its members, and some expressed dismay at the utter disrespect by Israel of its obligations and the total disregard to the resolutions of the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly. They called upon the international community to impress upon Israel its international legal responsibility emanating from its aggression in Gaza in January 2009. Several speakers said they were disappointed at the slow pace of investigations, and condemned the persistent non-cooperation of Israeli authorities with yet another United Nations-mandated mechanism. Due primarily to Israel’s policy of non-cooperation with the Committee and other United Nations human rights mechanisms, the international community was deprived of the opportunity to objectively and independently assess the credibility of Israeli investigations into numerous incidents involving serious allegations of human rights violations.

Other speakers said they were dismayed by the Council’s disproportionate focus on Israel. In the Human Rights Council the human rights records of all States should be addressed under one common item and they urged both parties to improve their human rights records. Israel had established an independent commission to investigate compliance with international standards and the commission had completed the first part of its report. They urged all parties of the conflict to uphold their responsibilities. Other speakers registered concern that the de facto authorities in Gaza had not carried out an investigation into the firing of rockets against Israeli civilians and they asked the Independent Experts to share their views on ways the Council could support Israel and Palestine so that, in law and in practice, investigations could comply with international standards.

Other delegations that spoke during the interactive dialogue were Iraq on behalf of the Arab Group, Egypt on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Morocco, Malaysia, Cuba, Turkey, Indonesia, Jordan, Bahrain, Algeria, Brazil, European Union, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Russian Federation, United States, Bangladesh and South Africa.

Representatives from the following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Al Haq Law in the Service of Man, ADALAH Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, UN Watch and Amnesty International.

The Council will hold non-stop meetings today from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. During the midday meeting, the Council will hold an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967.

Documentation

The Report of the Committee of Independent Experts in International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law Established Pursuant to Council Resolution 13/9, (A/HRC/16/24) is submitted to the Human Rights Council pursuant to its resolution 15/6, which “renews and resumes” the mandate of the Committee established in Human Rights Council resolution 13/9. The Committee sought to assess investigations for compliance with international standards of independence, impartiality, effectiveness, thoroughness and promptness. In attempting to fulfill its renewed mandate, the Committee reviewed numerous documents, reports and articles submitted by non-governmental organizations, and held interviews with representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as with Israeli and Palestinian victims and witnesses. The Committee undertook one field mission to Amman to interview relevant actors, including Government officials and human rights advocates. The Committee was not granted access to Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza.

Presentation of Report by Committee of Independent Experts

MARY MCGOWAN DAVIS, Chairperson of the Committee of Independent Experts pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 13/9, said that the Committee of Independent Experts was mandated to monitor and assess any domestic, legal or other proceedings undertaken by both the Government of Israel and the Palestinian side. The Committee had carried out its work under considerable challenges and constraints, in particular as the Committee had not travelled to the West Bank or Gaza and had been unable to meet with a number of people who could have supplied first-hand and updated information as to the status and impact of investigations and legal proceedings undertaken by the respective parties into the violations alleged in the report of the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. Ms. McGowan Davis said that the Government of Israel refused to cooperate with any aspect of what it called the “Goldstone process” and expressed gratitude to the Palestinian Authority for the extensive cooperation provided throughout the term.

Israel had dedicated significant resources to investigating over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza, but given the scale of this undertaking, much remained to be accomplished. There was no indication that Israel had opened investigations into the actions of those who designed, planned, ordered and oversaw Operation Cast Lead as called for by the Fact-Finding Mission report. The concerns expressed in the previous report of the Committee of Independent Experts relating to transparency and the participation of victims and witnesses in investigations continued to be relevant. Non-governmental organizations, victims and their legal representatives continued having difficulty in accessing information about progress in investigations and uniformly reported that the majority of their requests for information went unanswered. The Committee expressed strong reservations regarding the promptness of some investigations of individual incidents and more than one-third of the 36 incidents that had featured in the Fact-Finding Mission report were still unresolved or unclear. The duration of the ongoing investigations — over two years since the end of the Gaza operation — could seriously impair the effectiveness and the prospect of achieving accountability and justice.

The Committee noted the efforts of the Palestinian Authority and said that the Council of Ministers had established a Ministerial Committee with a mandate to issue recommendations about implementation of the report of the Palestinian Independent Investigation Commission. The report of the Ministerial Committee detailed strategies for significant institutional changes over the next nine months, including the recommendation that the General Prosecutor investigated incidents in which officials had allegedly refused to implement the court’s decisions. A decision had also been made to transfer cases from military to civilian courts. Those represented important developments, but the Committee remained concerned that criminal accountability mechanisms had not yet been duly activated in relation to many allegations of various violations by the Palestinian Authority reported by the Fact-Finding Mission. With regard to the de facto authorities in Gaza, the Committee acknowledged that they had made efforts to provide specific information concerning criminal investigations into alleged human rights violations committed by their security forces. However, there had been no investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel. The de facto authorities should make serious efforts to conduct criminal investigations into all the allegations of grave violations of international law implicated by those attacks.

Statements by Concerned Countries

AHARON LESHNO-YAAR (Israel), speaking as a concerned country, said that the ongoing events in the Middle East may have overshadowed events in Israel. On 11 March five members of the Fogel family had been brutally murdered and a faction of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade affiliated with Fatah had publicly and proudly claimed responsibility. Another troubling event had taken place in the Mediterranean, where the “Victoria” cargo ship had been found to be carrying tons of sophisticated Iranian weapons clearly intended for Gaza. Also, every day over one million Israelis in southern Israel remained under a constant state of attack. Qassam rockets, missiles and mortar attacks indiscriminately fired by Palestinian militants were intentionally directed towards innocent men, women and children. From the beginning of 2011 alone, over 150 of these attacks had brought destruction in southern Israel and put the lives of millions of Israeli civilians at risk. In her press release of 11 February the High Commissioner for Human Rights had asserted that the militants firing the rockets were committing war crimes and continuously terrorizing civilians. Nevertheless, this Council had continued to refrain from concretely addressing these attacks against the Israeli people. Why was this clear-cut issue of human rights not worthy of the time of this body? Why was it not speaking out in a clear manner to stand with civilians under such a threat? The silence from this Council was perfectly heard and understood by the people of Israel. The political rhetoric and discourse in the Council did not accurately represent the situation in Israel’s region. For this body to move towards success, it must act wisely and bravely leave behind the politicization and Israel-bashing that had brought its work into disrepute.

IBRAHIM KHRAISHI (Palestine), speaking as a concerned country, clarified to the Ambassador of Israel that concerning the act of terrorism that he had referred to, the Palestinian Authority considered it to be an act of terrorism and they had condemned it. The occupying power as usual continued to use lies and false allegations and this criminal act was not part of their culture - not as Palestinians, not as Arabs, not as Christians and not as Muslims, rather, this was the culture of the occupying power. Palestine called upon the Ambassador of the occupying power to call for a special meeting or session and they said that they would work with them to establish a fact finding commission to investigate these acts in order to stop these false allegations that were attempting to divert attention from the violations of Israel against their people in Palestine. They had seen enough violence during this operation that they condemned and firmly rejected these acts of violence and the launching of rockets. Palestine then reverted to the agenda item and thanked the Committee of Independent Experts for all the efforts they had made for discharging their mandate and welcomed the report despite the fact that it was late. The report reflected the forms of the investigations undertaken by Israel and the Palestinians. The contents of the investigation that the occupying power had started was not in line with international applicable standards and this indicated in an unambiguous manner that Israel did not respect the General Assembly resolution and it continued to refuse to deal with this International Committee of Experts and its predecessor. The Palestinian Authority had formed an independent Palestinian Commission of Inquiry, which had started its investigation according to international standards and investigations were carried out in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Interactive Dialogue with Committee of Independent Experts

MOHAMED ALI ALHAKIM (Iraq), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, welcomed the Committee of Independent Experts and thanked them for their efforts to implement the resolutions of the Human Rights Council. The Arab Group believed that the report presented by the Committee was professional and objective and that it reflected the investigations conducted by Israel and Palestine in keeping with the resolutions of the Human Rights Council. The Arab Group appreciated the efforts by the Palestinian Authority to implement and follow the recommendations from the Goldstone report and appreciated the fact that the Palestinian Investigations Committee had been mandated to accompany domestic investigations. The Arab Group was pleased by the cooperation of the Palestinian Authority which allowed the Committee of Independent Experts to investigate the allegations of violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Israel had not cooperated with the Committee nor had it allowed access to Israel by its members. The Arab Group appealed to Israel to implement the recommendations made by the Goldstone report. The Committee had not been able to analyze the investigations conducted by Israel in order to determine their compliance with international standards. Since Israeli violations during the Gaza attacks, investigations had not been conducted. The Committee of Independent Experts had been established in order to monitor the investigations into violations of international law and to provide the information to the United Nations General Assembly. The Arab Group requested the Human Rights Council to support a draft resolution on the follow up of the implementation of recommendations from the Goldstone report in order to guarantee accountability and access to justice.

HEBA MOSTAFA RIZK (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Non-Aligned Movement concurred with the assessment and conclusions of the Committee of Independent Experts. In resolution 15/6 the Council had decided, upon examination of the report of the Committee of Independent Experts, to renew and resume its mandate to monitor and assess any domestic legal or other proceedings undertaken by both the Government of Israel and the Palestinian side. Today, six months later, the Non-Aligned Movement could not but express its dismay at the lack of progress and the utter disrespect by Israel of its obligations and the total disregard to the resolutions of this Council and the General Assembly. The Non-Aligned Movement called upon the international community to impress upon Israel to fulfil its international legal responsibility emanating from its aggression in Gaza in January 2009. It reiterated that the Council should continue to be seized with the matter until justice had been served. The Non-Aligned Movement reaffirmed the need for both sides and all concerned parties to fully implement all the recommendations of the Goldstone report. Justice delayed was justice denied.

MARIAM AFTAB (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, welcomed the report of the Committee of Experts and considered their report to be professional, objective and independent. It reflected the status of investigations required by the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority under the relevant General Assembly and Human Rights Council resolutions. The Organization of the Islamic Conference also welcomed the positive and constructive cooperation of the Palestinian National Authority to facilitate the work of the Committee of Independent Experts and enable it to fulfill its duties to monitor, access, and investigate the violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law. The Organization of the Islamic Conference condemned Israel, the occupying power, for its lack of cooperation once again with the Committee of Experts, and not allowing the Committee to enter the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and preventing them from entering the West Bank to investigate human rights violations that had occurred in conjunction with the Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip.

MOHAMED ACHGALOU (Morocco) said that Morocco commended the objective, professional and impartial characteristics of the Committee of Independent Experts and regretted the belated translation of their report. The report presented by the Committee claimed there were various degrees of credibility of internal investigations conducted by the parties. The openness of the Palestinian Authority found positive resonance in the report and Morocco hoped all parties would follow suit. Since the incident involving the humanitarian flotilla, there had been no lifting of the embargo on Gaza, to the contrary, the situation had further deteriorated. The report was complementary to the previous expert reports and other reports by the High Commissioner during her visit to the region. The constant violations of rights by Israel were apparent, through illegal settlements, desecration of religious cites and other acts. The whole world was looking forward to justice and accountability, concluded Morocco.

NUR AZURA ABD KARIM (Malaysia) said that the Malaysian delegation took positive note of the Committee’s work since its mandate had been renewed and resumed. That said, after more than two years since Operation Cast Lead, Malaysia was disappointed at the slow pace of investigations, and condemned the persistent non-cooperation of Israeli authorities with yet another United Nations-mandated mechanism. Due primarily to Israel’s policy of non-cooperation with the Committee and other United Nations human rights mechanisms, the international community was deprived of the opportunity to objectively and independently assess the credibility of Israeli investigations into numerous incidents involving serious allegations of human rights violations. Malaysia condemned Israel’s recalcitrance and emphasised that as an occupying power it was incumbent upon Israel to establish accountably for the perpetrators and justice for the victims. The delegation noted that the Palestinian authorities in both the West Bank and Gaza had taken steps to initiate investigations. In that regard, the delegation was encouraged by the establishment of the Palestinian Independent Investigation Committee as well as the cooperation extended to the Committee by the de facto authorities in Gaza. Malaysia called upon both parties to continue cooperating and constructively engage with the Committee and other relevant Council mechanisms.

LUIS AMOROS NUNEZ (Cuba) thanked the Committee of Independent Expert for their report to the Council. At the end of 2008, hundreds of Palestinians had died under the bombs of the Israeli forces’ military operation. All this led to the adoption of the resolution 9/1 and to the adoption of a series of resolutions condemning the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip which led to serious violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people and to the destruction of their infrastructure. Israel had refused to collaborate with the mechanisms established by the Human Rights Council and more than two years after the Israeli attack on Gaza the victims of this action and their families were still waiting for justice. Cuba stressed the need for a fair, peaceful and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Arab Israeli conflict in general.

OGUZ DEMIRALP (Turkey) said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict still remained one of the most challenging items on the global agenda. The region was going through turbulent times, but Turkey was hoping it was moving to a better future. However, a better future was not possible without a just solution to the issue of Palestine. The report of the Fact-Finding Mission led by Judge Goldstone was a comprehensive document, which outlined the violations of international law and international humanitarian law and pointed to the necessity of the improvement of the grave humanitarian conditions, particularly in Gaza. The Committee of Independent Experts had unfortunately not been granted access to the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza. The ongoing humanitarian crisis did not benefit anyone, said Turkey and called on Israel to respect its obligations under international humanitarian law. It was time to take resolute action against the policy of non-cooperation by Israel, said Turkey.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) commended Jordan and Palestine for their cooperation with the Committee of Independent Experts, but expressed deep regret by the fact that Israel had not granted it access to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. This action was deplorable and intended at nothing less than obstructing a mission which was clearly mandated by the Council. Indonesia was concerned that the ongoing investigations into allegations, as recommended by the Goldstone report, were so protracted after more than two years since the end of the Gaza operation that they may seriously impair their effectiveness and, therefore, the prospects of achieving accountability and justice. In contrast, Indonesia was pleased to learn of the involvement of the Palestinian Independent Human Rights Commission in the conduct of the Committee. It shared the view that human rights organizations and civil societies played a vital role in the investigation. At this juncture, Indonesia asked the Committee to what extent the role of civil societies had contributed to the work of the Committee? Moreover, would the assistance and information provided by civil societies with regard to the legal proceeding benefit the work of the Committee?

MUTAZ FALEH HYASSAT (Jordan) said that while the report underscored the extensive cooperation of the Palestinian National Authority, it pointed to the continued non-cooperation of Israel. In this context, it was imperative that Member States should accord all human rights mechanisms the necessary cooperation and facilitation so that they could effectively discharge their mandates. Jordan called upon Israel to reconsider its policy in this respect.

Criminal justice, be it national or international, had to be upheld at all times and effective enjoyment of the right to remedy and reparation by victims and /or their families had to be ensured. The same was true with respect to accountability and impunity; all perpetrators of serious violations and heinous crimes had to be held accountable and brought to justice.

BUDOOR ABDULAZIZ AHMED (Bahrain) said that Bahrain extended its thanks to the Committee of Independent Experts for the efforts of implementing their mandate in accordance with the relevant resolution of the Human Rights Council, and in a professional, impartial and independent manner. Bahrain regretted the lack of cooperation by Israel and for not allowing the Committee to visit the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza, or to establish the state of investigations into violations of international law and international humanitarian law. Bahrain wondered how it was possible to push for the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the Committee and in the report of the United Nations Secretary-General, which were ever more relevant and urgent.

IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria) said that Algeria welcomed the second report by the Committee of Independent Experts tasked with monitoring the investigations carried out by Israel and the Palestinian side. Algeria had voted for renewal of the Committee’s mandate to give its members sufficient time, but it noted with greatest regret that only the Palestinian party was constructively working with the Committee. Israel had not responded positively to the request for cooperation, thus impeding the recommendations of the Fact-Finding Mission and the work of the Council and killing any hope that justice could be done to the victims. Algeria was deeply disturbed because the international community was unable to end the Gaza blockade, although two years had passed since the adoption of the report of the Fact-Finding Mission.

MARIA NAZARETH FARANI AZEVEDO (Brazil) said that while Brazil regretted the late submission of the report, it welcomed the final report of the Committee of Independent Experts, which assessed the conformity to international standards of investigations undertaken by both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities, on the violations identified in the Goldstone report. Brazil commended the Palestinian Authority for cooperating fully with the Committee and they also thanked the Israeli and Palestinian victims who reported their traumatic experiences. They regretted, however, that the Government of Israel had chosen not to cooperate, and that the Gaza “de facto” authorities had not provided information on the rocket launchings. Brazil was concerned that, to date, the investigations by the Palestinian authorities could be acknowledged as credible and genuine, in conformity with international standards. While commending Palestine, they encouraged them to ensure that the investigations led to criminal accountability.

JOELLE HIVONNET (European Union) said the European Union commended the Committee of Independent Experts for its solid report delivered in spite of the lack of access to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. More than two years had passed since the military operation in the Gaza Strip and the European Union had taken note of the state of play reviewed by the Committee and strongly believed that all victims had the right to justice and accountability. The European Union had repeatedly called for appropriate, credible and independent investigations into alleged violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Concerning the report of the Committee, the European Union continued to be concerned that the functioning of Israel’s military justice systems did not fully meet the criteria of independence and impartiality. The lack of transparency regarding the different stages of the investigations had not allowed all victims to have access to existing judicial mechanisms. The European Union was concerned that de facto authorities in Gaza had not carried out an investigation into the firing of rockets against Israeli civilians. The European Union asked the experts to share their views on ways for this Council to support Israel and Palestinian so that, in law and in practice, investigations could comply with international standards.

NESTOR CRUZ TORUNO (Nicaragua) said that Nicaragua welcomed the report presented this morning and in this regard underscored that it had always supported causes aimed at ensuring the rights of all people, including both individual and collective rights such as those to self-determination. Nicaragua felt solidarity with the Palestinian State and supported its right to self-determination and independence, being in solidarity with the daily fight and the suffering of its people, especially women and children who suffered various human rights violations. Nicaragua regretted that the investigations into the ongoing violations perpetrated against the Palestinian people had not yet resulted in significant advances, and that it was civilians who continued to be victims of this conflict. Many resolutions on the rights of the Palestinian people had been adopted by the General Assembly, the Security Council and this Council, without the self-determination of Palestinians and an end of their oppression becoming a reality.

AHMED SULEIMAN IBRAHIM ALAQUIL (Saudi Arabia) welcomed the Committee of Independent Experts on the follow up of the resolution taken by the Human Rights Council on violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Saudi Arabia welcomed the report of the Independent Expert and the recommendations and conclusions made and they regretted that Israel had refused to cooperate with the international community. Israel always refused the carry out their responsibilities and persisted with the practices that were against international law. The report had reiterated that the suffering of the Palestine population prevented humanitarian assistance from reaching the population and the destruction of the infrastructure and the findings of the Fact-finding Mission, the Goldstone report were not implemented. Saudi Arabia reaffirmed the importance of implementing these recommendations and putting an end to the constant violations of human rights.

AISHATH LIUSHA ZAHIR (Maldives) said despite numerous resolutions by this Council, Israel continued to follow a principle of non-cooperation with all relevant procedures of this Council. The Maldives regretted that the Committee was not able to visit Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, due to restrictions and non-cooperation imposed by Israel. These visits were crucial for the successful execution of the Committee’s mandate. The Maldives welcomed the establishment of a ministerial committee by the Palestinian Authority but was concerned that the de facto authorities in Gaza had not conducted investigations into the launching of rockets from Gaza into Israel.

OLEG MALGINOV (Russian Federation) said that the work of the Committee of Independent Experts provided an independent and impartial view into the alleged violations committed during Operation Cast Lead. Unfortunately, due to the late submission, there was very little time to read the report properly. The Russian Federation commended the Palestinian Authority for the cooperation with the Committee and expressed its concern over the lack of access by the Committee to the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza. The access to the ground was crucial as was transparency, justice and accountability for victims.

MELANIE KHANNA (United States) said the United States was dismayed by the Council’s disproportionate focus on Israel and said that the Council should address other human rights concerns in the same manner. The Secretary of State of the United States, Hillary Clinton, had recently noted that a standing agenda item for Israel when all the other countries were addressed in one common agenda item was wrong. In the Human Rights Council the human rights records of all States should be addressed under one common item and the United States urged all parties to improve their human rights records. Israel had also established an independent commission to investigate compliance with international standards and the commission had completed the first part of their report and Israel had demonstrated its ability to carry out a serious self scrutiny. The United States urged all parties of the conflict to uphold their responsibilities.

NAHIDA SOBHAN (Bangladesh) said the report of the Committee of Independent Experts in international humanitarian and human rights law showed that the investigations, proceedings and actions carried out by the Israeli authorities to proceed criminal investigations against military personnel and civilians that perpetrated grave incidents of human rights violations and war crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory lacked compliance with international standards of independence, impartiality, effectiveness, thoroughness and promptness. Bangladesh appreciated the positive and constructive engagement and cooperation of the Palestinian Authority with the Committee and commended the role played by the Palestinian National Authority in fulfilling its duties to address and implement recommendations of the Goldstone report. The Council should demand Israel’s compliance with its obligations under the Council and United Nations General Assembly resolutions in relation to the situation in the Palestinian territories.

LUVUYO NDIMENI (South Africa) said that South Africa had always maintained that the work of the Human Rights Council should be aimed at enduring maximum protection from human rights violations and where violations occurred, for remedy to victims. There should be zero tolerance for impunity for human rights violations and South Africa shared the view of the Committee of Independent Experts that where harm had been done, irrespective of the reason or justifications, victims should be given the opportunity to be compensated for the damages suffered. South Africa was saddened by the fact that many victims still carried the burden of injuries and disabilities and struggled to live under difficult and unsafe conditions, particularly those Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. South Africa was disappointed that criminal accountability had not been established and that there were no indications that Israel had opened investigations into the actions of those who designed, planned, ordered and oversaw Operation Cast Lead. South Africa called on the authorities in Gaza to conduct criminal investigations into the landing of rocket and mortar attacks.

DARAGH TWRRAY, of Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, said that numerous international investigations, including this Council’s Fact-Finding Mission, found convincing evidence that international crimes had been committed, including by the highest levels of the Israeli administration, “those who designed, planned, ordered and oversaw the operation”. According to the Government of Israel no mistakes were made. Palestinian investigations had also proved ineffective and insufficient with respect to the demands of international law. The military system could not investigate itself. There was only one possible outcome: total impunity. Unsurprisingly, this was what they had witnessed. These crimes had to be investigated and submitted to judicial regulation: those responsible had to be held to account. In light of the unwillingness, this obligation now had to be fulfilled by third States and the International Criminal Court.

NATHALIE TABAR, of Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man, in a joint statement, said that as Palestinian human rights organizations, they welcomed the swift action taken by this Council with respect to the situation in Libya. It was their hope that now, more than two years after the end of Israeli military offensive “Operation Cast Lead”, a similar course of action could be pursued for victims of the Gaza Conflict. Over one year and a half ago, this Council endorsed the recommendations of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. Despite the gravity of the report’s claims, the accountability process had been persistently delayed. The time limit for domestic investigations expired a year ago, and evidence that domestic mechanisms had failed to provide justice for victims could no longer be ignored. The Committee of Independent Experts appointed by this Council had confirmed the responsible parties’ failure to initiate or conduct effective prosecution of international crimes.

SAMAR KHAMIS, of ADALAH Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said it believed that domestic violations carried out by Israel regarding human rights violations could not be considered to be independent or impartial because all alleged investigations were carried out by the Israeli army. Furthermore the investigations were directed only toward individual soldiers and not to the overall policy decisions by commanders and policy makers. There was a deep culture of impunity in Israel against those who committed human rights violations against the Palestinian people. The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel urged the Council to take immediate and effective steps to seek justice for the victims and to conduct investigations that complied with international standards.

HILLEL NEUER, of United Nations Watch, said it would like to know why the Committee had disregarded UN Watch’s submission of documents that exposed material defects in the Goldstone Report. UN Watch asked why the Council had not issued a report when Iran gunned down peaceful protestors in June 2009 or the next month when China killed hundreds of civilians in the province of Xinjiang. And why was there no Goldstone Report today as Syria fired on peaceful protestors with several dead and many wounded or as the same happened in Bahrain, Yemen and across the Middle East.

PETER SPLINTER, of Amnesty International, said that the conclusions of the report of the Committee of Independent Experts concurred with the latest assessment by Amnesty International published on 18 March that neither Israeli nor Hamas authorities had adequately investigated violations covered by the report of the Fact-Finding Mission. This continuing failure demonstrated a lack of will by both sides to ensure accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Human Rights Council must take steps towards an international just solution for all the victims of the conflict. Israeli authorities had not investigated the policy decisions that led to grave violations of international law during the conflict, or adequately investigated all alleged violations covered in the report of the Fact-Finding Mission. Hamas failed to investigate the firing of indiscriminate rockets into Israel. Amnesty International called on the Council to adopt a resolution that, among other, condemned the failure of Israeli authorities and the Hamas de facto administration to conduct credible, independent investigations or prosecute perpetrators of victims, and to urge the General Assembly to call on the United Nations Security Council to refer the situation in Gaza to the International Criminal Court.

Concluding Remarks

MARY MCGOWAN DAVIS, Chairperson of the Committee of Independent Experts pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 13/9, in her concluding remarks, said that the contributions of civil society in this process had been absolutely valuable, the Committee had depended on them for access to victims and to enlighten the Committee with their views on the events in the region. Concerning the manner to move the process forward, the Chairperson said that the mandate of the Committee was simply to monitor and assess the investigations by both sides and to report back to the Human Rights Council. Providing recommendations on the future course of action for this Council was not a part of this mandate. The Committee did note the sentiments expressed by all members that one of the measures towards justice was to push forward the notion of impartial, fair and durable peace in the region, which would go some way toward honouring the victims in Gaza and in Israel, who continued to live in unsafe conditions, without transparency, accountability and justice. The justice system must be seen by the people to actually deliver justice, and much work remained to be done on this aspect.

For use of the information media; not an official record


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