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OMCT and Pax Romana intervene at the CHR on human rights violations in the occupied territories

Nathalie Mivelaz

Joint intervention of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and Pax Romana

Thank you Mr. Chairperson,

There has been a serious deterioration of the human rights situation in the occupied territories since September 28th 2000, marked by wide-ranging violations of human rights and humanitarian law, including grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. OMCT and Pax Romana are concerned by the escalation of violence in the region resulting from Israel’s violations of human rights and humanitarian law, as reported by LAW and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), both members of OMCT network, and by the recent reports of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, and the Commission of Inquiry.

Information provided by LAW shows that excessive, disproportionate, and indiscriminate use of force has been used by Israel, in violation of international human rights and humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Mr. Chairperson,

Information received by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) shows an emerging pattern of a return to the use of torture methods during interrogations, as it was the case prior to the 1999 Israeli High Court decision outlawing such methods. Incommunicado detentions (Israeli denial of access to lawyers and families) as well as other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment continue to be reported. No later than yesterday, we received a communication form the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel on alleged use of torture during interrogations, which include beatings, slapping on the face and sleep deprivation. We also remain deeply concerned as no decisive measure has been taken, since the High Court’s ruling, to either prosecute those who have abused detainees, or to compensate the victims.

Mr. Chairperson,

Israeli military courts continue to undermine the rule of law in the occupied territories. The military courts do not accord to internationally recognised standards of fair trial while the military orders themselves violate human rights standards. Bias in sentencing of Palestinians in the Israeli military and civil courts as compared with Israeli settlers and soldiers have also been regularly reported to us by LAW and the Public Committee against Torture in Israel (PCATI).

Mr. Chairperson,

On the basis of information received from LAW and the Public Committee against Torture in Israel (PCATI), extra-judicial killings, or to use the Israeli terminology “liquidations”, have become a regular pattern of the current crisis, with at least 10 such “liquidations” carried out by Israel since November 9th 2000. In all cases, the Palestinians alleged to have engaged in hostilities against Israel were assassinated extra judicially, without trial, arrest or detention for questioning, even though in all cases there was an opportunity for Israel to do so.

Mr. Chairperson,

The siege (the closures and curfews) of the occupied territories has resulted and continue to result in gross violations of economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights such as the rights to work, to health, to education, to an adequate standard of living, and the right to life. The recent report of the World Bank estimates (as at 13 February 2001) that as a result of the restrictions the poverty rate in the occupied territories has increased by 50% ( from 21.1% to 32% of the population). Accordingly, about 1 million Palestinians are now living under the poverty line.

The nature of the restrictions, their timing, their destructive consequences, as well as their discriminatory nature – as they do not apply to settlers in the occupied territories - indicate that they constitute a form of collective punishment against the whole Palestinian population of the occupied territories. Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, applicable to the occupied territories, prohibits any form of collective punishments against civilian populations.

Mr. Chairperson,

We note with concern that the perpetrators of all violations of human rights and humanitarian law have not been properly investigated or prosecuted, or have enjoyed complete impunity. With regard to Israel, impunity from liability arising from grave breaches of international law lies at the heart of its policies of abuse against Palestinians and encourages Israel in its attitude of disregard for international standards. This has led to a deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the occupied territories, which requires urgent intervention by the international community.

Mr. Chairperson,

OMCT and Pax Romana strongly urge the Commission to:

1. request Israel to endorse its international obligations under international law, put an end to the violations of human rights law and humanitarian law and to prosecute all perpetrators of all human rights and humanitarian law violations, including grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention;

2. condemn the escalation of violence in the region;

3. implement the resolution of the Fifth Special Session;

4. adopt the recommendations made by the High Commissioner of Human Rights and Inquiry Commission;

5. ask the international community to take effective measures in accordance with international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, and notably to reconvene the adjourned Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention;

6. recommend to the Security Council and the general Assembly the establishment of an international protection force in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and in this regard to recommend to the United States of America to reconsider its position.
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