Amnesty International : Victims of Gaza conflict await justice | Video

Amnesty International’s Philip Luther calls on UN Human Rights Council to take action for victims of conflict.

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On 21 March, the Human Rights Council will consider the second report of a Committee of Independent Experts which it mandated to assess the Israeli and Palestinian investigations into serious violations of international law committed by Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups during the 22-day conflict. The UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, commissioned by the Human Rights Council and headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, found in September 2009 that the violations committed by both sides included war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity. It recommended that the Israeli authorities and the relevant authorities in the Gaza Strip be required to investigate serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law reported by the Mission. If the authorities failed to conduct independent investigations meeting international standards within six months, the Mission recommended that the UN Security Council refer the issue to the International Criminal Court.

The previous report of the Committee of Independent Experts, issued in September 2010, concurred with Amnesty International’s continuing assessment that the investigations conducted by both the Israeli authorities and the Hamas de facto administration have failed to meet the required international standards of independence, impartiality, thoroughness, effectiveness and promptness. Failing to take account of the victims’ right to justice, the Human Rights Council merely voted to renew the Committee’s mandate for another six months and requested it to report again at the Council’s 16th session, which began on 28 February 2011.

Both Israeli and Hamas authorities have been given adequate time and opportunity to ensure justice for the victims, yet they are both failing to do so. An international justice solution must now be found. Amnesty International is therefore urging the Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution at its 16th session that:

· condemns the failure of the Israeli authorities and Hamas de facto administration to conduct credible, independent investigations or prosecute perpetrators of violations;
· refers the September 2010 report and the upcoming report of the Committee of Independent Experts to the UN General Assembly, and urges the General Assembly to call on the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Gaza to the ICC;
· notes that the ICC Prosecutor has yet to request a determination from the Pre-Trial Chamber on whether the ICC has jurisdiction to investigate war crimes committed during the Gaza conflict, pursuant to a declaration accepting ICC jurisdiction submitted by the Palestinian Authority in January 2009, and requests him to do so urgently; and
· calls on states to fulfil their duty to investigate and prosecute crimes committed during the conflict before their national courts by exercising universal jurisdiction.

YouTube – Victims of Gaza conflict await justice.

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