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SUB-COMMISSION ON THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 9th MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Monday, 6 August 2001, at 10 a.m.
Chairperson: Mr. WEISSBRODT
later: Mr. OGURTSOV
ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE (continued)
29. Mr. MASOOD (International Human Rights Association of American Minorities) said that there was growing acceptance of universal jurisdiction in accordance with the provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which had already been ratified by at least 30 States. As stated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, human rights abuses such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture were widely considered to be subject to universal jurisdiction. An International Criminal Court exercising universal jurisdiction would make it possible to prosecute political and military figures who were responsible for systematic violations of basic human rights in situations of conflict and occupation, for example in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir and in Palestine. National sovereignty could no longer serve as a guarantee of impunity. He noted, however, that some countries were reluctant to accede to the Rome Statute and were pressing for amendments to its provisions.
30. Ms. BANDETTINI di POGGIO (International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples) said that the state of emergency declared in Israel in 1948 had been repeatedly extended and was still in force. The Human Rights Committee, in its concluding observations on Israel’s initial report, had recommended that the Government take steps to limit the scope and territorial applicability of the state of emergency and the associated derogation of rights. In the current conflict, the powerful Israeli armed forces and intelligence services were pitted against a civilian population that had been dispossessed of its rights and was fighting for survival with every means at its disposal. The question arose whether Israel, as the occupying Power, was justified in applying the state of emergency to the occupied territories. It was rather required, under the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (Fourth Geneva Convention) and the two Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions, to protect the civilian population of the territories.
31. The state of emergency was invoked for the purpose of sealing off the occupied territories and erecting roadblocks. Pregnant women spent hours waiting at checkpoints in the blistering heat; one woman had died some weeks previously within sight of a Red Crescent mobile unit that was waiting on the other side of the checkpoint. Patients with chronic heart conditions had also died owing to lack of treatment. Red Crescent ambulances were often denied passage and exposed to gunfire in violation of the principle of neutrality of medical services. Such behaviour by the occupying Power was contrary to articles 16, 17, 18, 21 and 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
32. Seven civilians had been killed some days previously in a “targeted” attack against alleged “criminals”. As Ms. Hampson had noted, there were judicial procedures for bringing suspects to justice. Israel’s so-called “active defence” policy posed a serious threat to the civilian population. Official killings had become such a routine event that people were becoming inured to their tragic implications. Mrs. Warzazi had drawn attention to the complicity of silence of powerful States, the use of the veto and attempts to muzzle those who spoke out against such practices.
33. Her organization urged the Sub-Commission, as an independent body, to bring a new sense of urgency to the debate with a view to ending the tragedy.