AL HAQ: Palestinian Independent Committee of Enquiry’s findings submitted to the UN Secretary-General: action must be the next step 4Aug10 August 6, 2010

DATE: 04 AUGUST 2010
REF.: 176/2010

‘The Palestinian Independent Committee of Enquiry into the Goldstone Report’ (the Committee) submitted its report to the Secretary General of the United Nations on 12th July 2010. The Committee, which comprised former judges and experts in international law, investigated the perpetration of violations of international law by the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) and the de facto Gaza government in connection with ‘Operation Cast Lead’. The period under investigation was December 2008 until April 2009.

The Committee’s investigations found evidence that the following violations have been committed by the P.A.: (i) arbitrary detention and torture by security forces, including the practice of subjecting civilians to the military court system, (ii) the restrictions placed on the work of NGOs and the freedom of the press, (iii) violations of the right to peaceful assembly, (iv) the dismissal of P.A. employees on the basis of their political orientation. The Committee also held that the de facto Gaza government had perpetrated unlawful killings, torture and arbitrary detention. The Committee was not able to investigate the factual circumstances related to the launch of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel due to impeded access to relevant information. However, it condemned and provided a comprehensive analysis of the legal implications of the illegal practice.

The Committee’s findings on the violations of international law were entirely consistent with Al Haq’s documentation and repeated calls to halt and investigate violations committed by both the P.A. and the de facto Gaza government.

Al Haq has monitored and on occasion advised the Committee. We commend it for its independency and impartiality in conducting thorough investigations as dictated by international standards. The prompt and public dissemination of the Committee’s report and its Executive Summary is strongly recommended.

The relevant Palestinian authorities must now promptly act on the basis of the findings and the recommendations of the Committee, with a view to prosecuting without delay those responsible for the perpetration of the reported violations. This endeavour will demonstrate the ability and willingness of the relevant authorities to ensure accountability for the violations committed in connection with ‘Operation Cast Lead.’

The UN General Assembly must also recognise that the Committee’s report constitutes a call for action and not for further procrastination. It must now be assessed, once and for all, whether both Palestinian and Israeli authorities are genuinely able and willing to prosecute those responsible for the violations associated with ‘Operation Cast Lead.’ If the relevant authorities are shown not to have abided by their legal obligations, measures must immediately be taken to refer the situation to an international tribunal, such as the International Criminal Court, in order to ensure justice for the crimes committed.

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