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Call for Special Session of the Human Rights Council in the Gaza Strip : Violations of International Law Must End

November 16, 2012

 

Together with other international, regional
and national human rights organizations the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
submitted an open letter to the Human Rights Council members calling upon them
to convene a Special Session of the Human Rights Council in order to address
the escalating situation in the Gaza Strip and intervene in order to restore
the rule of law and prevent further harm to civilians.


 

Joint
Open Letter


November 16, 2012 – The undersigned national, regional and international human
rights organizations call upon the international community to urgently convene
a Special Session of the Human Rights Council in order to address the
escalating situation in the Gaza Strip. The intensification of hostilities in
recent days and hours has resulted in widespread death and destruction, and
concrete evidence indicating the commission of war crimes by both parties. Due
to the nature of the situation, precise casualty figures are unavailable, as fieldworkers
continue to investigate both previous and ongoing attacks.

It is imperative that the international community intervene in order to restore
the rule of law, and to prevent further harm to civilian populations on all
sides. We underscore that all States and all parties to an armed conflict are
subject to a binding legal obligation to respect international humanitarian law
in all circumstances, and that indiscriminate fire on civilian areas violates
the inalienable rights of all civilians to protection.

The failure of the United Nations Security Council to reach consensus on a
resolution regarding the current situation highlights the necessity of the
Human Rights Council’s urgent intervention. This is further underlined by the
escalation in hostilities in recent hours.

As human rights organisations, we note that the failure of the international
community to ensure accountability for violations of international law
committed in the occupied Palestinian territory has resulted in pervasive
impunity, and increasing disregard for the rule of international law. This
failure to ensure accountability has facilitated the current situation. It is
imperative that the international community ensure accountability in the
present context, in order to prevent further tragedy.

Article 146 of the Fourth Geneva Convention declares that all States are under
the obligation to search for and prosecute all those suspected of committing,
or ordering to be committed, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions,
regardless of their nationality or the place of commission of the crime.

We request the urgent convening of a Special Session of the Human Rights
Council, and call upon all sides to fulfil their binding legal obligations
under international humanitarian law.

During the last large-scale offensive on the Gaza Strip, civilians paid the
price of political inaction. We must not allow history to repeat itself.

Signed,

Palestinian Centre for
Human Rights (PCHR)
Public Committee Against
Torture in Israel (PCATI)
International Federation
for Human Rights (FIDH)
Euro-Mediterranean Human
Rights Network (EMHRN)
Cairo Institute for Human
Rights Studies (CIHRS)
Albanian Human Rights
Group (AHRG) – Albania
Ligue des droits de
l’Homme (LDH) – France
Hellenic League for Human
Rights (HLHR) – Greece
Internationale Liga für
Menschenrechte (ILMR) – Germany
Unione Forense per la
Tutela dei Diritti Umani (UFTDU) – Italy
Center for Constitutional
Rights (CCR) – USA
Iranian League for the
Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI) – Iran
Human Rights Commission
of Pakistan (HRCP) – Pakistan
Asociacion Pro Derechos
Humanos (APRODEH) – Peru
Committee for the Defence
of Democracy Freedoms and Human Rights in Syria (CDF)
Kurdish Organisation for
the Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms in Syria (DAD)
Arab Organisation for
Human Rights in Syria
Human Rights Organisation
in Syria (MAF)
National Organization for
Human Rights in Syria
Kurdish Committee for
Human Rights in Syria (Rased)