Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights Director, Mr.
Issam Younis, participated in the nineteenth regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva between 18 and 23 March 2012.
Younis joined a number of representatives of Palestinian human rights organizations from the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), who organized a joint event at the UN premises in Geneva.
Younis had participated in an international conference in Tunisia on legislative reform.
At the HRC, Mr.
Younis joined ten Palestinian human rights organizations, who delivered a joint oral statement.
He also spoke at the joint event organized by the NGOs in UN premises, focusing on the conditions of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip, and Israel’s continuous violations of international human rights law (IHRL) and international humanitarian law(IHL) in the Gaza Strip.
Younis asserted that Al Mezan’s monitoring indicates that many of Israel’s practices in Gaza represent grave breaches of international law; including practices that amount to war crimes.
He also highlighted the situation of Palestinian prisoners in Israel and asserted that it has reached a point that cannot be tolerated.
Younis pointed out that the escalated Israeli practices against Palestinian prisoners in Israel have been the fruit of decades of silence and inaction on the part of international community.
In the joint oral statement, Ramallah-based organization Al-Haq spoke on behalf of the Palestinian Council of Human Rights NGOs, which brings together eleven Palestinian NGOs.
The statement pointed out the escalation of Israeli violations of human rights and IHL in oPt; including the siege and attacks on the Gaza Strip, and settlement activities in the West Bank; including the expansion of settlements in Jerusalem, settler violence against Palestinian civilians, the restrictions on movement due to settlements, and the construction of the separation wall on Palestinian land in the West Bank.
Younis met with a number of diplomatic missions and international human rights organizations in Geneva.
During these meetings, he explained the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in oPt, which is expected to grow into deeper crisis unless international community takes effective action to stop Israel’s violations and ensure accountability for violations of international law.
In Tunisia, Mr.
Younis spoke in a conference on a draft domestic law on public good; in which he provided the Palestinian unique experience in the provision of legal advice and assistance to victims of human rights violations, working with the marginalized groups, and monitoring and documenting human rights violations.
Before leaving Geneva, Mr.
Younis expressed Al Mezan’s appreciation for the adoption of four resolutions by the HRC.
The Council’s role gives more motivation to human rights organizations and activists in oPt, Mr.
Younis said, ‘and I call on international community to act on its legal and moral responsibilities regarding the protection of Palestinian civilians in oPt by upholding international law; especially Geneva Conventions.
’ He also called international community to provide all the political and diplomatic support for the committee of investigation which the HRC created during the nineteenth session to investigate the implications of Israeli settlements on Palestinians human rights, stressing that settlements activities and the construction of the separation wall represent serious violations of international law.
‘The committee’, said Mr.
Younis, ‘provides a new opportunity to re-visit the 2004 advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice regarding the construction of the separation fence in the West Bank.
’ International community has a vital role to play to challenge Israel’s attempt to create facts on the ground and obstruct Palestinian self-determination by violating international law, he added.
Younis will end his work trip in Beirut, Lebanon, where he is scheduled to take part in a conference on IHL and armed groups in the Arab region.