As part of its investigations into the December 2008 – January 2009 Gaza Conflict, the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict will hold public hearings, on Sunday 28 and Monday 29 June in Gaza City and on Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 July in Geneva.
The public hearings, which are a part of the information-gathering work of the Fact Finding Mission, will enable victims, witnesses and experts from all sides in the conflict to speak directly to the international community. The Fact Finding Mission is mandated by the United Nations to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009.
The holding of such public hearings was called for by Justice Richard Goldstone, head of the Mission and previously a member of the South African Constitutional Court, as well as a Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
“The purpose of the public hearings in Gaza and Geneva is to show the faces and broadcast the voices of victims – all of the victims,” said Justice Goldstone on Thursday.
Justice Goldstone also explained that the public hearings in both Gaza and Geneva will augment the ongoing investigations of the Fact Finding Mission. “The hearings are limited in time and scope”, he said, “The fact that not all important incidents and events are the subject of the public hearings should in no way be interpreted as meaning that the other incidents are of lesser importance or of less concern to the Mission”.
The hearings are only one aspect of the Mission’s investigative work. The Mission is holding meetings and interviews with a large number of victims, witnesses and experts, and has had access to substantial documentation on the conflict and the context in which the conflict took place. The Mission is due to complete a report with its findings in August.
During the Gaza hearings, the Mission will hear from victims of alleged violations and from experts on the context and impact of the Israeli siege and military operations. In Geneva, the Mission will hear from victims of alleged violations in Israel and the West Bank, as well as from experts on a variety of military and legal issues.
During the public hearings, witnesses and experts will speak about incidents and experiences regarding loss of life, attacks on physical integrity, destruction of industry and livelihood, and the effects of prolonged conflict on mental health, among others.
The media and the public will be invited to view the proceedings at a separate location from the actual hearing room. In Gaza, witnesses and experts will give their testimony at UNWRA Headquarters and the hearings will be screened live for the public and the media at the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, Tal Alhawwa, next to the Al Quds Hospital.
The Mission had hoped to hold public hearings in southern Israel and on the West Bank. However, as the Fact Finding Mission has so far not received permission to enter Israel, the second round of hearings will be held instead in Geneva, with similar arrangements for the public and the media as in Gaza.
The times of the public hearings in Gaza local time are as follows:
Sunday 28 June
08:30 – 13:00 and 14:30 – 16:30 (05:30 – 10:00 and 11:30 – 13:30 GMT)
Monday 29 June
08:30 – 13:00 and 14:30 – 17:00 (05:30 – 10:00 and 11:30 – 14:00 GMT)
More details on the Geneva hearings will follow in a separate press release.
For further information in English, please contact Doune Porter on +41 (0)79 477 2576, or +972 (0) 597 444 159, email firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information in Arabic, please contact Adnan Abu-Hasna on + 972 (0)59 942 8061, email email@example.com
More information about the Fact Finding Mission is available on the official OHCHR Website of the Mission under: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/specialsession/9/FactFindingMission.htm
For use of information media; not an official record