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Press briefing notes on Israel/OPT, Syria/Aleppo Central Prison and Dominican Republic/new citizenship law

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Cécile Pouilly
Location:  Geneva
Date: 23 May 2014
Subject:  1) Israel/OPT
                2) Syria/Aleppo Central Prison
                3) Dominican Republic/new citizenship law

1) Israel / OPT

The High Commissioner has written to the Israeli Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva to express her very serious concerns about a recent incident involving the killing of two Palestinian teenagers in the occupied West Bank. 

On 15 May, Israeli security forces allegedly shot and killed two Palestinian minors taking part in a demonstration in Beituniya, in the West Bank, commemorating the 66th anniversary of what Palestinians call “Nakba day.”

The initial findings of OHCHR’s team on the ground indicate that the two minors aged 16 and 17 presented no direct threat at the time that they were killed. The killings may amount to extrajudicial executions under human rights law as well as wilful killings under international humanitarian law.

While we welcome reports that an investigation into the incident has been opened, we call for this investigation to be prompt, thorough, effective, independent, impartial and transparent. We also urge Israel to make public the findings of this investigation and any steps regarding accountability that are taken.

This event comes amid a series of incidents involving the excessive use of force by Israeli security forces in the West Bank, as reported in the High Commissioner’s last report to the Human Rights Council*.  

Our Office has repeatedly raised its concerns about the excessive use of force by Israeli security forces and the lack of accountability for such incidents. Any use of force by the Israelis must be in accordance with the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms. 

ENDS

*The report A/HRC/25/40 of 13 January 2014 is available at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session25/Pages/ListReports.aspx

2) Syria / Aleppo Central Prison


According to information we have received, units of the Syrian armed forces yesterday broke through the siege imposed for more than a year on Aleppo Central Prison by some armed groups and succeeded in entering the prison’s compound.

The safety and physical integrity of a number of prisoners and detainees, in particular 53 political detainees whose identity is known to our Office, are at imminent risk.

We have also received information that a number of prisoners have completed their sentence. Those prisoners, as well as those arbitrarily detained, should be immediately released. All detainees and prisoners should receive the medical care which they were deprived of for too long as a result of the siege.

We remind the Government of Syria of its obligations to safeguard the safety and security of all detainees and prisoners.

3) Dominican Republic / new citizenship law

We welcome the adoption yesterday of a new citizenship law in the Dominican Republic, as part of the efforts by the Government of the Dominican Republic to restore the nationality of thousands of individuals who were affected by the ruling of the Constitutional Court in September 2013.

The recently approved law is an important step towards restoring the nationality of those who were already included in the Dominican Civil Registry.

However, we remain concerned by the situation of individuals who were not registered at birth and which may represent a large majority of those affected by the Court ruling. We stress the importance of a transparent and effective process in order to restore their nationality.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely.

ENDS
For more information or media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org ) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org) or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 /rshamdasani@ohchr.org)
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