Archive for the 'Human Rights' Category

Wibisono’s Resignation as UN Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestine

by Richard Falk
Source: Global Justice in the 21st Century

Commentary on the Resignation of Makarim Wibisono

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(Prefatory Note: This post appeared on January 5th under a different title in the Electronic Intifada. It is published here in a slightly modified and extended form.)

Makarim Wibisono announced his resignation as UN Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestine, to take effect on March 31, 2016. This is position I held for six years, completing my second term in June 2014.

The prominent Indonesian diplomat says that he could not fulfill his mandate because Israel has adamantly refused to give him access to the Palestinian people living under its military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“Unfortunately, my efforts to help improve the lives of Palestinian victims of violations under the Israeli occupation have been frustrated every step of the way,” Wibisono explains.

His resignation reminds me in a strange way of Richard Goldstone’s retraction a few years ago of the main finding in the UN-commissioned Goldstone report, that Israel intentionally targeted civilians in the course of Operation Cast Lead, its massive attack on Gaza at the end of 2008. Read more »

Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestinian Territory resigns due to continued lack of access to OPT

UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights

Makarim Wibisono (UN Photo/Violaine Martin)

Makarim Wibisono (UN Photo/Violaine Martin)

GENEVA (4 January 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, Makarim Wibisono, today submitted his resignation to the President of the Human Rights Council, effective as of 31 March 2016.

The independent expert expressed deep regret that, throughout his mandate, Israel failed to grant him access to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. “Unfortunately, my efforts to help improve the lives of Palestinian victims of violations under the Israeli occupation have been frustrated every step of the way,” said Mr. Wibisono.

The Special Rapporteur stressed that upon taking up the mandate in June 2014, he was assured that he would have access to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. “I took up this mandate with the understanding that Israel would grant me access, as an impartial and objective observer,” he said. Read more »

Joint Statement on the Appalling Sentencing of Leading Palestinian Human Rights Defender, Ms Khalida Jarrar


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London, Ramallah and New York, 04 January 2016 Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR), Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association (Addameer) and the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) are deeply appalled at the sentencing of leading Palestinian human rights defender, Ms Khalida Jarrar, to 15 months imprisonment by an Israeli military court on 7 December 2015. She was further fined 10,000 NIS and given a suspended sentence of 12 months within a 5 year period.

Ms Jarrar accepted a guilty plea on two of the 12 charges against her – membership in an illegal organisation and incitement to kidnap Israeli soldiers – despite her rejection of the merits of all charges. She reluctantly agreed the plea deal because she did not believe that the Israeli military court system – which has a reported[1] conviction rate of more than 99 per cent – would provide her with a fair trial. She was also aware that her sentence if convicted on all charges could range between 3.5 to 7 years. Read more »

End of mission statement of the UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices


Illegal settlements in the West Bank

Illegal settlements in the West Bank

GENEVA / AMMAN (10 August 2015) – The UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories met with a range of civil society groups and Palestinian officials during their annual fact-finding visit to Amman (4-8 August 2015).

During the visit, representations were made on a wide range of issues affecting the Palestinian and Syrian people in the occupied territories. During the course of these representations a large number of civil society organizations expressed alarm over the escalating violence in the occupied Palestinian territories, in particular the recent incident in the village of Duma, where an 18 month old Palestinian baby died following the fire-bombing of the house by Israeli settlers. The Committee was also informed that the father of the baby, who has sustained serious injuries, subsequently died on 8 August.

It was apparent from the testimonies that the root cause of the escalating violence is the continuing policy of settlement expansion and the climate of impunity relating to the activities of the settlers. Read more »

UN experts urge Israel to halt legalization of force-feeding of hunger-strikers in detention

UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights

Families of Palestinian  prisoners protesting

Families of Palestinian prisoners protesting

GENEVA (28 July 2015) – Two United Nations human rights experts today reiterated their call on the Israeli authorities to stop the process of legalizing force-feeding and medical treatment of prisoners and detainees on hunger strike against their will.

Their call comes after the current Knesset decided to continue the legislative process of a Bill to amend the Prisons Act (preventing damages due to hunger strikes) initiated by the previous legislature.

The independent experts warned that the Bill is expected to primarily affect Palestinians held by Israel, including those in administrative detention.

The UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez, underlined that “feeding induced by threats, coercion, force or use of physical restraints of individuals, who have opted for the extreme recourse of a hunger strike to protest against their detention, are, even if intended for their benefit, tantamount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” Read more »

PFLP calls for urgent action to confront Zionist crimes against Palestinian people

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

Falah Abu Maria, murdered in his Beit Ummar home by Israeli military

Falah Abu Maria, murdered in his Beit Ummar home by Israeli military

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine called for urgent international action to stop the escalating crimes of the Zionist entity against the Palestinian people, which have taken on multiple forms in recent days.

The PFLP considered that the escalation of these crimes, the latest of which was the murder of Falah Abu Maria and the wounding of his two sons in Beit Ummar, the murder of Mohammed Alawneh from Jenin refugee camp, and the decision of the illegitimate occupation court to deport the children of the martyr Ghassan Abu Jamal from the city of Jerusalem, as well as the approval of the constructions of colonization units in the West Bank, the continued raids and incursions into Palestinian villages and cities, the ongoing and escalating campaign of arrests and the attacks on prisoners, must inspire us all to move relentlessly and without complacency or submission to Zionist or international pressures to hold Zionist officials accountable before international courts, in particular the International Criminal Court.

The Zionist entity must be criminalized and delegitimized on an international level and its political and military leaders and settlers brought before these courts for crimes committed before the sight of the entire world.

The Front noted that the decision of the illegitimate Zionist court, ordering that the children of the Jerusalemite martyr Ghassan Abu Jamal be forced to leave the city by early October is a serious crime, and a part of the systematic Zionist policy aimed at changing the demographic character of Jerusalem and the imposition of an exclusive Jewish character on the city through the forced expulsion of Palestinians. This is a serious violation of international law and the Geneva Conventions, as well as covenants protecting the rights of children. Read more »

UN Economic and Social Council Adopts Resolution condemning Israeli Occupation

Edited from a UNISPAL Press Release

Palestinian workers lining up at an Israeli checkpoint to get to work (Photo: CJPP)

Palestinian workers lining up at an Israeli checkpoint to get to work (Photo: CJPP)

At the opening sessions of the United Nations Economic and Social Council’s 2015 Coordination and Management meeting on 20 July, the Council adopted a resolution on “Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan”, by a vote of 42 in favour to 2 against (Australia, United States) with 2 abstentions (Honduras, Panama).


TARIK ALAMI, Director of the Emerging and Conflict Related Issues Section of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), said Israeli policies and practices continued to violate international human rights and humanitarian law, as well as the right to self-determination and the principle of non-discrimination. Its 51-day offensive against Gaza in July 2014 had led to an unprecedented loss of life and had triggered concerns about war crimes. Palestinians lived under harsh military rule and Israel had created two separate legal systems in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, one for Israelis and one for Palestinians. In addition, Israel had de facto exiled some 250,000 Palestinians from their land, including 14,000 from East Jerusalem. Read more »

Hemaya: UN spurns Palestinian children

Hemaya Center for Human Rights
08 June 2015

Shifa Hospital 19 July 2014

Shifa Hospital 19 July 2014

Ban Ki-moon’s decision not to include Israel on the list of violators of children’s rights twists the knife in the heart of every Palestinian parent, making it very clear that in the eyes of the United Nations, Palestinian children’s lives don’t count.

When a military with the most sophisticated and accurate weaponry on the planet can kill more than 500 children in cold blood with complete impunity, as Israel’s absence from the list shows, it reveals more than just the complete disregard for Palestinian lives that has become so commonplace in the halls of power. It also makes it abundantly clear that the UN, the single most important international organisation charged with protecting the lives of the most vulnerable, is failing spectacularly. Read more »

Weakening and Discrediting the UN: The Mission of Israeli QGOs

Global Justice in the 21st Century
by Richard Falk

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There are no better texts for assessing the damage done to the role and reputation of the UN by the Israeli Lobby than to consider Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent statements boasting about the U.S. success in protecting Israel from criticisms arising from its non-fulfillment of responsibilities under international law and as a member of the United Nations. It should be understood that the lobby does not act in a vacuum, and its leverage is greatly enhanced in global settings to the considerable extent that its priorities overlap with the strategic and economic interests of the United States in the Middle East.

Despite the tensions with the White House associated with Netanyahu’s March speech to Congress, Kerry proudly informed an ABC TV news boradcast: “We have intervened on Israel’s behalf..a couple of hundred times in over 75 different fora.” [“This Week,” Feb. 28, 2015]. And then when addressing the Human Rights Council Kerry included a statement that could just as well been drafted by AIPAC or Israel’s ambassador to the UN: “It must be said that the HRC’s obsession with Israel actually risks undermining the credibility of the entire organization.” And further, “we will oppose any effort by any group or participant in the UN system to arbitrarily and regularly delegitimize or isolate Israel, not just in the HRC but wherever it occurs.” [Remarks, Palais des Nations, Geneva, March 2, 2015] What is striking about these kinds of statements by our highest ranking government officials dealing with foreign policy is the disconnect between these reassurances of unconditional support and Israel’s record of persistent disregard of its obligation under international law and with respect to the authority of the UN. In addressing an AIPAC gathering a few weeks ago, Representative Lindsay Graham curried favor by telling the audience that as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, “I’m gonna put the UN on notice” that he would go after its funding if the Organization takes any steps to ‘marginalize’ Israel. Read more »

Euro-Mid report documents Israeli harassment at Erez border crossing

Press Release
Euromid Observer

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An increasing number of Palestinian businessmen are being detained while attempting to cross into Israel via the Erez checkpoint for routine trips, reports Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights. The number of businessmen detained while traveling into Israel has reached 19 to date in 2015, compared to only one during the same period last year.

While two of the businessmen were released, says the Geneva, Switzerland-based organization, 17 were still in detention at the time of publication. Read more »

Israel’s use of administrative detention against Palestinians draws concern of UN rights office

UN News Centre

OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani. Photo: UN Multimedia

OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani. Photo: UN Multimedia

10 April 2015 – The United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR) today expressed concern by the continued and increasing use of administrative detention by Israeli authorities against Palestinians, who are being held without charge or trial, often on the basis of secret evidence, for periods of up to six months.

Briefing reporters in Geneva, OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said that detainees were also often transferred to prisons inside Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Most recently, Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Khalida Jarrar was arrested on 2 April 2015 and subsequently detained pursuant to an administrative detention order issued by an Israeli military commander in the West Bank on Sunday 5 April.

Ms. Jarrar remains in administrative detention in a prison in Israel. The order is currently under review by the Ofer Military Court in the West Bank and if confirmed, Ms. Jarrar will be subjected to six months detention, without charge or trial, renewable indefinitely.

This is not the first time Ms. Jarrar had been subject to administrative orders by the Israeli military commander in the West Bank, said Ms. Shamdasani. On 20 August 2014, Ms. Jarrar received a military order giving her 24 hours to move from Ramallah, where she lived, to the district of Jericho where her movements would be restricted for six months. On appeal, an Israeli court reduced the restriction to one month.

According to the press release, the Israeli practice of administrative detention has been condemned on numerous occasions by the UN Human Rights Office and the Human Rights Committee that oversees implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Israel has ratified.

However, as of February this year, there are reportedly 424 Palestinians held under administrative detention orders – more than double the 181 held at the same time last year, said Ms. Shamdasani.

OHCHR reiterates it call on Israel to end its practice of administrative detention and to either release without delay or to promptly charge all administrative detainees and prosecute them with all the judicial guarantees required by international human rights law, she said.

Gaza to recognise World Human Rights Day, hold annual HR conference

by Julie Webb-Pullman

Dr Ahmed Yousef (left) and Hisham Al Mghari open the workshop

Dr Ahmed Yousef (left) and Hisham Al Mghari open the workshop

At the multidisciplinary workshop Strengthening the Culture of Human Rights in Palestinian Society held in Gaza last week, the organisers announced their intention to hold an annual human rights conference on December 10 each year in recognition of World Human Rights Day.

Chair of the Al-Awda University College academic committee Hisham Al-Mghari, who organised the workshop with the sponsorship of Gaza NGO The House of Wisdom, opened the event noting that Al-Awda has already launched Palestine’s first Bachelor’s degree in education and human rights.

“We are here together hand in hand for the sake of our country,” he told the delegates, who hailed from lawyers’ groups, universities, colleges and other institutes, civil organisations, various political factions, and the ministries of justice, education, interior and women including the Minister of Justice Salim Saqqa and Minister of Women Haifa al-Agha.

Read more »

Abbas decrees committee for prosecution of war crimes at ICC

by Julie Webb-Pullman

Remains of ambulance, one of many deliberately targetted by Israeli fire killing medics and patients

Remains of ambulance, one of many deliberately targetted by Israeli fire killing medics and patients

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today announced the issuance of a presidential decree forming a committee that “will identify and prepare the documents and records that the state of Palestine will present to the ICC,” according to the official Wafa news agency.

The decree indicated that the committee’s members, drawn from Palestinian human rights groups, academia and the political sphere, will be headed by Saeb Erekat. Read more »

The Problem with Gaza

by Richard Jackson
Source: richardjacksonterrorismblog

Children's bodies in Gaza's Kuwaiti hospital, August 2014

Children’s bodies in Gaza’s Kuwaiti hospital, August 2014

The problem with Gaza is that when we see its suffering, we know that our commitment to human rights stops at the Israeli border; it hurries past the apartheid wall. We do not, it seems, believe in universal human rights after all.

The problem with Gaza is that when we see its dead, dust-covered children, we know that our belief in the rule of law and accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity is nothing more than fancy talk designed to seduce and distract from the ethical vacuum at the heart of our legal ethics. Read more »

Jailed Palestinian Lawyer Shireen Issawi gets 2014 Alkarama Human Rights Award


Layla and Tarek Issawi receive 2014 Alkarama Award for Human Rights Defenders on behalf of their daughter, Shireen (From left to right: Mourad Dhina, Tarek Issawi, Norman Finkelstein, Layla Issawi, Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold, Haneen Zoabi)

Layla and Tarek Issawi receive 2014 Alkarama Award for Human Rights Defenders on behalf of their daughter, Shireen (From left to right: Mourad Dhina, Tarek Issawi, Norman Finkelstein, Layla Issawi, Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold, Haneen Zoabi)

Geneva, 13 December 2014

On 11 December 2014, the Alkarama Foundation presented its 6th annual Award for Human Rights Defenders in the Arab world to Palestinian human rights lawyer and activist, Shireen Issawi, in recognition of her courage and bravery in defending Palestinian prisoners and advocating for their rights. The ceremony held at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva focused on the Palestinian people’s strategy of non-violent resistance, a story largely under-reported in the mainstream media.

Speaking at the event were UN and international law experts, Richard Falk, Norman Finkelstein and Alfred de Zayas, as well as Palestinian Member of the Knesset, Haneen Zoabi, and Swiss political personalities, Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold and Guy Mettan. In the absence of Shireen, arrested by the Israeli authorities on 6 March 2014 as part of a crackdown on lawyers defending Palestinian prisoners, the Award was presented to her parents, Layla and Tarek Issawi. Read more »

Hemaya warns Israeli ‘Nationality bill’ will legitimise apartheid

Hemaya Center for Human Rights

Second Class Citizen stamp now being used by Palestinian citizens of 'Israel'

Second Class Citizen stamp now being used by Palestinian citizens of ‘Israel’

Hemaya Centre for Human Rights considers that the nationality bill passed by the Israeli cabinet last week will undermine the rights of Palestinian civilians in ‘Israel’ and legitimise apartheid.

The bill seeks to formally identify ‘Israel’ as the nation-state of the Jewish people, effectively ruling out the right of return of Palestinian refugees; to enshrine Jewish law as a source of inspiration for legislation; and to delist Arabic as an official language.

If passed by the Knesset, the law would be a clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which stipulates that an occupying power may not transfer sovereignty, make permanent changes in fundamental institutions, or change the demographic structure of the state it occupies. Read more »

HumanRights: The Struggle Continues

by Mazin Qumsiyeh

Cleaning up Al AQsa Mosque after Israeli settlers attack it today

Cleaning up Al AQsa Mosque after Israeli settlers attack it today

I return to this country (and it is one country) to find the situation more tense than it was two weeks ago when I left. An Israeli colonial settler runs over Palestinian children killing one 5 year old and injuring another. A Palestinian native runs over Israeli border police in Jerusalem killing one officer and injuring several. Such incidents are increasing. Read more »

Liberty and security: Human Rights Committee clarifies limits on detention

UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

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GENEVA (30 October 2014) – The UN Human Rights Committee has issued an authoritative new commentary on one of the most important issues in international human rights law – when and how is it justified to deprive a person of their liberty, and what obligations do States have to avoid people being unlawfully or arbitrarily detained.

“Arbitrary detention is a profound threat to liberty and to the enjoyment of all other rights,” said Gerald Neuman, Committee member and rapporteur of the commentary which has now been adopted by the Committee. Read more »

“Lasting peace entails the exercise of self-determination by all peoples without discrimination” – UN rights expert

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

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NEW YORK / GENEVA (28 October 2014) – The realization of the right of self-determination is essential to maintain local, regional and international peace and must be seen as an important conflict-prevention strategy, the United Nations Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, said on Monday. Read more »

Bring “Mediterranean mass murderers” to justice – UN Human Rights Chief

Press Release
United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Desperate phone calls from migrants on a sinking boat (not the boat in this case) indicating that passing ships ignored their pleas for help

GENEVA (19 September 2014) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Friday urged Egypt and other North African and European States with relevant information to make a concerted effort to bring to justice the people smugglers who allegedly deliberately sank a boat causing the deaths of between 300 and 500 refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean last week. Read more »

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