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Hebron killing: “All the signs of an extrajudicial execution” – UN expert expresses outrage

GENEVA (30 March 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns today expressed his outrage at the killing of a Palestinian man by an Israeli soldier on 24 March in Hebron, West Bank, as he laid incapacitated on the ground following his alleged role in a knife attack.

Footage of the shooting of Abed al-Fatah al-Sharif was released by the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, and others have subsequently also posted similar videos on the Internet.

“The images shown carry all the signs of a clear case of an extrajudicial execution,” the human rights expert stressed. “There does not appear to be any provocation on the side of the gravely wounded man.”

“Whatever legal regime one applies to the case, shooting someone who is no longer a threat is murder. It is furthermore troublesome that this was done to no apparent alarm to the other soldiers who were nearby,” Mr. Heyns said.

The Special Rapporteur expressed further concern at the decision of the medical personnel on the scene to ignore Mr. Abed al-Fatah al-Sharif and attend only to the injured Israeli soldier, who had sustained light injuries.

“Part of protecting the right to life is accountability where it has been violated,” Mr. Heyns said welcoming the news that the soldier has been arrested by the Israeli authorities and is facing trial. “Ensuring a proper trial and if appropriate, punishment, will be of great importance, to stop what appears to be a pattern of unpunished cases where excessive force is used,” he underscored.

A total of 133 Palestinians and 30 Israelis (including 2 Arab Israelis) have been killed since the recent outbreak of hostilities in October last year.

“The current cycle of provocation and retaliation has to stop. Political leaders on both sides have an obligation to condemn the killings and to ensure accountability,” the human rights expert stated.

The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Mr. Christof Heyns (South Africa), is the director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa and Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria, where he has also directed the Centre for Human Rights, and has engaged in wide-reaching initiatives on human rights in Africa. He has advised a number of international, regional and national entities on human rights issues. Learn more, log on to:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Executions/Pages/SRExecutionsIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Pages:
Israel: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/ILIndex.aspx
Occupied Palestinian Territories: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/MENARegion/Pages/PSIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Jon Izagirre García (+41 22 917 9715 / jizagirre@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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