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Al Mezan advocates in Europe for respect for humans rights in the OPT

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8 March 2010 |Reference 12/2010

Today, 3 March 2010, Al Mezan Centre’s Communications Coordinator, Mahmoud Abu Rahma, met with 15 members of the Swedish parliament in Stockholm, representing various Swedish political parties from the government alliance as well as the opposition.
The meeting was coordinated by Al Mezan’s Swedish partner organization Diakonia.
  Mr Abu Rahma  described the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), especially the Gaza Strip.
He stressed the urgent need to lift the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip, which gravely impacts upon the human rights and humanitarian conditions in Gaza.
He also called for international efforts to ensure respect for human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL) in the oPt.
He stressed the need to ensure accountability for human rights and IHL violations as the only way to ensure justice for the victims of past violations, protect civilians in the future, but also to strengthen the prospects of just peace that would lead to the realization of the right of the Palestinian people to self determination.
This meeting comes in the context of a trip that started on 9 February 2010, during which Mr Abu Rahma visited Germany, Belgium and Sweden.
  In Sweden, he also spoke at a  conference on  Gaza, Accountability and the Goldstone Report.
He addressed an audience of 260 people representing civil society, political parties, the media and parliamentarians.
In this conference, several experts spoke in support of ensuring accountability for human rights violations and ending the international community’s double standards’ approach to the Palestinian – Israeli conflict.
Among the speakers were Hina Jilani, who was a member of the UN Fact Finding Mission (Goldstone Mission), Mr.
Hans Correl, former chief legal adviser to the UN, Mr.
Ran, Yaron, acting Executive Director of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I), as well as representatives of Diakonia, Amnesty International, Palme Centre, the Church of Sweden and the Swedish Red Cross.
Four parliamentary members also spoke at the Conference.
Abu Rahman met on 1 March with the head of Humanitarian Department at the Swedish International Development Agency.
On the same day, he and a delegation encompassing Hina Jilani, Diakonia and Amnesty International met with the head of the Middle East Department and other heads of departments at the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
During his visit to Sweden, he also met with representatives and MP’s from all political parties in Sweden and with the media.
  In Germany, Mr Abu Rahma  and a delegation from Al Mezan’s partners Medico International – Germany, Al-Haq and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel met with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the head of the Human Rights Committee in the Biundstag (Greens Party), members of the Bundstag representing different political parties and with civil society organizations.
The delegation requested Germany to use its relations with and influence on Israel to ensure better respect for human rights and international law, and to ensure accountability for human rights and IHL violations.
He also met with several German media outlets and spoke about the human rights situation in the oPt.
  In Belgium, he met with the Human Rights Desk Officer in the European Commission and with the Cabinet of the European Union’s High Representative, Lady Aston.
He spoke about the human rights situation in the oPt, but particularly about the practices of torture and other forms of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment (CIDT) of Palestinians by the Israeli authorities.
He called for a more active and assertive role by the EU in preventing torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment (CIDT) and explained that Al Mezan Centre has been engaged with its partners Adalah and PHR-I in documenting and combating torture and (CIDT) in the oPt with support from the European Commission.
He stressed the impact of the siege on the entire population of Gaza, especially civilians who suffer from practices by the Israeli Occupation Forces that amount to inhuman treatment, such as patients, fishermen, farmers residing close to the border.
He added that Israel had continued to fail to amend its legal system in conformity with the Convention Against Torture (CAT) and other instruments, but also failed to investigate the hundreds of complaints of Palestinian victims of torture and (CIDT) filed with the Israeli authorities.
A culture of impunity is entrenched in Israel, he added, which creates an environment in which violations of human rights represent the rule and accountability a rare exception.
Representatives of several international human rights organizations; including the Open Society Institute (OSI), EMHRN, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and (FIDH) also spoke in the meeting with the EU High Representative’s cabinet.
They stressed the need to ensure accountability and called for a more effective EU role to deter human rights violations.
They called on the EU to consider steps that could ensure Israel’s compliance with the rules of international law; including by supporting accountability and conditioning the upgrade of relations between Israel and the EU with Israel’s compliance with  international law.
  Mr Abu Rahma is scheduled to meet in Amman, Jordan, with representatives of Al Mezan’s partner (OSI) on 4 March 2010, before he returns to the Gaza Strip Ends