PCHR statement on continuing Goldstone process: Aug. 15, 2010
On the Occasion of the Visit of the UN Committee of Experts to Gaza PCHR Release âGenuinely Unwilling: An Updateâ
Today, 15 August 2010, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) received at its office in Gaza City the UN Committee of Experts, who are mandated to analyse the effectiveness of investigations conducted at the domestic level into alleged crimes, as reported by the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (the Goldstone Report). The Committee â consisting of Professor Christian Tomuschat of Germany (chairperson), Mr. Param Cumaraswamy from Malaysia and Justice Mary McGowan Davis of the United States of America â was appointed pursuant to UN Human Rights Council Resolution A/HRC/Res/13/9. The Committee is due to submit its final Report to the 15th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in September 2010.
Mr. Raji Sourani, the Director of PCHR, and Mr. Eyad Alami, head of PCHRâs Legal Unit, briefed the Committee on the Centreâs experience in taking cases before the Israeli courts, and on the inherent flaws within the Israeli system which render the pursuit of justice for Palestinian victims impossible. The meeting focused in particular on the events occurring in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead. Following the offensive, PCHR submitted 1,046 civil complaints to the Compensation Officer in the Israeli Ministry of Defense, and approximately 490 criminal complaints (on behalf of 1,046 affected individuals) requesting the opening of a criminal investigation to the Israeli Military Prosecution. To-date, only a handful of interlocutory responses have been received. In light of Israelâs longstanding failure to conduct effective investigations, the pressing necessity of recourse to mechanisms of international criminal justice was emphasized. Following the meeting at PCHRâs office, the Committee also met with a number of victims of the offensive, to discuss their experiences with respect to the investigative procedures conducted to-date.
During the meeting, PCHR also discussed the investigations conducted by the Palestinian authorities. Those exceptionally limited processes begun to date do not meet international requirements, and it must be concluded that the Palestinian authorities are unable to conduct effective investigations, and if appropriate, prosecutions with respect to the violations documented in the Goldstone Report.
On the occasion of the Committeeâs visit to Gaza, PCHR release âGenuinely Unwilling: An Update, The Failure of Israelâs Investigative and Judicial System to Comply with the Requirements of International Law, with particular regard to the Crimes Committed during the Offensive on the Gaza Strip (27 December 2008 â 18 January 2009)â.
This in-depth study analyses Israelâs legal and judicial system in light of the requirements of international law. Despite Israelâs claims to the contrary, Genuinely Unwilling clearly shows that the Israeli system is incapable of conducting independent, credible investigation in conformity with international legal obligations. As shown, the investigative processes begun following Operation âCast Leadâ confirm this conclusion, and are indicative of a desire to frustrate, and not further, the pursuit of justice.
Israelâs failure to conduct credible investigations stands in violation of the Stateâs international legal obligations, and UN Resolution A/Res/64/10.
In light of Israeli unwillingness, and the Palestinian authorities’ inability, it is imperative that urgent recourse be had to mechanisms of international criminal justice. The international community, and individual States, must ensure that those suspected of committing the most serious crimes of the international community do not continue to be granted impunity. Accountability must be pursued, and victimsâ rights upheld.
For more information surrounding the Goldstone Report, including a chronology, please visit the âIn Focusâ section on the Goldstone Report on PCHRâs website.