Edited News | UNITED NATIONS , UNOG
The Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel currently holds a second series of public hearings from 20 to 24 March at the United Nations in Geneva as part of its mandate and its investigations. The Commissioners hear testimonies from human rights defenders, activists, journalists and lawyers who have been subjected to or witnessed attacks, restriction and harassments by authorities and non-State actors.
“What's different about these hearings, we are focusing on civil society organizations and whether their space is shrinking, whether they get any remedies for the complaints and whether they are able to file these complaints », said Navi Pillay, the Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel.
The Commission of Inquiry held its first series of public hearings last year in November. The hearings then focused on the closure orders and terrorism designation of a number of Palestinian human rights organizations, and on the incident surrounding the killing of the Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
Speaking of the Commission’s mandate, Ms. Pillay said that “this is a unique mandate, in fact, it was opposed by quite a few states of Western countries on the basis that it is a non-ending mandate. It doesn't have a cutoff date. Usually, Commissions of Inquiry are set up for one year, two years. Usually they focus on specific human rights abuses. »
Issa Amro, a prominent Palestinian human rights defender and a civil society leader in youth education initiatives, witnessed at these public hearings. Mr. Amro regularly receives death threats from settlers and Israeli Forces.
“Issa's experience is emblematic, I feel, of the kind of suffering that is going on by Palestinians », Ms Pillay said. She added that “they were trying to put his injured father in an ambulance, a Palestinian ambulance, and the soldiers and settlers were stopping them pushing this body out. I have never heard that even in the most oppressive, lawless situations. So that moved me. And then here he is, the grandson, following in the footsteps very bravely, even though he's been arrested, incarcerated really his entire life from age 16 ».
Amro’s house in Hebron in the occupied West Bank, also serves as a community centre of the Palestinian civil society organisation Youth Against Settlements, which seeks to end settlement expansion through peaceful civil resistance.
“We try to really stand in front of the offenders to protect our Palestinian victim and encourage them to stay and remain and for sure, to protect our Palestinian identity and to show the world what's going on by organizing tours, advocacy campaigns and writing media articles and using the social media to stay firm as a community against the policies to take us away », Mr. Amro said.
Amro was assaulted with sticks and rocks throughout October last year as he led an initiative to assist Palestinian families with the olive harvest. Amro was turned away by the local police when he attempted to file a complaint on 30 October 2022.
“Palestinians deserve full, equal rights », Mr. Amro said. « Palestinians deserve freedom, justice and equality, and Palestinians will not stop or compromise their basic human rights and political rights ». The Human Rights Defender continued saying that «we will not give up, we will continue, but we need the international community to give us support and protection. According to the International Community Mechanism, especially here in the United United Nations. And I want them to treat us as nation, as people who deserve rights, as everybody, every nation on earth ».
In May 2021, the Human Rights Council decided to “urgently establish an ongoing, independent, international Commission of Inquiry to investigate, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel, all alleged violations of international humanitarian law and abuses of international human rights law leading up and since 13 April 2021”.
The resolution further requested the Commission of Inquiry to “investigate all underlying root causes of recurrent tensions, instability and protraction of conflict, including systematic discrimination and repression based on national, ethnic, racial or religious identity”.
“We identified the root cause as the occupation and the occupation is as non ending as our mandate », said the Commission’s Chairperson. “So, the occupation revealed to us that all these violations come under the occupation, but mainly we found that it's a permanent occupation, it's just a pretence that it's temporary. They're going to negotiate now, it's 55 years now ».
In its mandate, the Commission is asked to make recommendations in particular on accountability measures with a view to avoiding and ending impunity and ensuring legal accountability, including individual criminal and command responsibility as well as on measures to be taken by third States to ensure respect for international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.
STORY: Public Hearings - Commission of Inquiry Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and Israel
TRT: 3 min 25s
SOURCE: UNTV CH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: 21 March 2023 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
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