|PCHR participates in an international law conference in Turkey; holds meeting with the legal team representing the Turkish victims of the “Mavi Marmara”|
|Written by PCHR|
|Monday, 01 October 2012 00:00|
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) participated in an international conference titled ‘Rethinking International Law and Justice’, held on 24-25 September in Istanbul, and co-hosted by the Istanbul Kültür University and the Australia-based Griffith University and Queensland University of Technology.
The two-day conference brought together leading international law scholars and was inaugurated by Prof. Mark Villiger, Judge at the European Court of Human Rights, who delivered a keynote speech.
Mr Davide Tundo, a member of PCHR’s International Unit, participated in the conference, delivering a presentation titled ‘Justice and Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts through the Enforcement of International Legal Obligations: The case of the Gaza Strip’.
Mr Tundo noted that rethinking justice in international law firstly requires the acknowledgment of the lack of enforcement of existing legal mechanisms – including the principle of universal jurisdiction – to safeguard civilians, the “protected persons” of international humanitarian law.
PCHR notes that the required respect for, and enforcement of, international law is absent in the Israeli-Palestinian context. This has led to an increasing cycle of violation and impunity and a devaluation of the law, and it is the Palestinian civilian people who have paid the price. Particularly in the Gaza Strip, the failure of the international community to uphold the rule of law has resulted in the institutionalization of Israel’s illegal closure of the Gaza Strip, which was tightened in mid-2007 and has remained in place ever since. The culture of impunity has reached a peak – with the complicity of the international community – as no individual member of the Israeli civil and military authorities has been held to account for international crimes committed in the context of ‘Operation Cast Lead’, Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip, which took place from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009. As a result, civilian victims in Gaza have been deprived of the equal protection of the law and their right to justice.
On Wednesday, 26 September, Mr Tundo met with representatives of the Turkish legal team which is assisting Turkish civilian victims of the attack on the ‘Mavi Marmara’ boat of 31 May 2010. The ‘Mavi Marmara’ was part of the ’Gaza Freedom Flotilla’ humanitarian convoy, which was attacked in international waters by Israeli special military forces while sailing towards the Gaza Strip. The attack resulted in the death of nine Turkish nationals and the injury of a further 50 civilian solidarity activists. Additional human rights violations were carried out by the Israeli authorities in this context, in particular, once the vessel and the civilian crew were in Israeli locations and under Israeli authorities’ full control. Specific examples included physical and verbal abuse amounting to inhumane treatment, and deprivation of the right to defense and consular assistance.
Israel carried out an inquiry into the raid which failed to meet the requirements of international law, and nobody involved was prosecuted. On 28 May 2012, four senior Israeli military commanders were indicted in Turkey for the killings of the nine Turkish nationals. The first hearing of the criminal trial is scheduled to be held on 6 November in Istanbul.
On behalf of PCHR’s Director, Mr Raji Sourani, Mr Tundo congratulated the Turkish legal team for their work in support of civilian victims of the ’Gaza Freedom Flotilla’. Participants in the meeting further reviewed the state of criminal proceedings in Turkey, and explored possible working relationships in light of their common objective of holding Israeli officials accountable for human rights violations and the application of the rule of law.
Further information on the international conference, ‘Rethinking International Law and Justice’, is available at http://www.internationallawandjustice.com/.
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