GENEVA (2 October 2018) – The killing and wounding of more Palestinian protesters at the Gaza fence by the Israeli security forces is an ongoing affront to human rights and human dignity, said a UN human rights expert.
“The deaths of seven more participants in the Gaza demonstrations, and the wounding of more than 200 others, this past Friday indicates that the Israeli security forces are not heeding the international criticism of their use of lethal fire against Palestinian demonstrators, who appear to pose no credible threat to Israeli security forces,” said Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Two of the Palestinians killed on Friday were boys aged 11 and 14. One Gaza-based human rights group, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, estimates that 163 of the injured demonstrators were shot with live fire.
Since the start of the Great March of Return on 30 March, more than 150 Palestinians have been killed during demonstrations near the Gaza fence by the Israeli security forces. More than 10,000 demonstrators have been wounded during this period, more than half of them by live fire. A number of the wounded have suffered devastating and life-long injuries.
“International human rights law imposes strict obligations on the use of force by law enforcement officials,” said Lynk. “Lethal force against demonstrators is absolutely forbidden unless strictly unavoidable in the case of an imminent threat to life or threat of serious injury. Many of those killed and wounded appear to have presented no such imminent threat.
“As I have said in previous statements regarding the recent violence at the Gaza fence, the killing and wounding of demonstrators, in the absence of any strictly-measured justification, and within the context of occupation, may amount to willful killing, which is both a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and a war crime. It is also a serious violation of international human rights law and its protections for the rights to freedom of expression and assembly.”
The Special Rapporteur expressed hope that the recently-appointed UN Commission of Inquiry will be able to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the deaths and injuries in Gaza over the past six months. “Accountability is paramount in the global quest to advance human rights and to bring perpetrators to justice in accordance with the rule of law,” Lynk said.
Mr. Michael Lynk was designated by the UN Human Rights Council in 2016 as the
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the then UN Commission on Human Rights. Professor Lynk is Associate Professor of Law at Western University in London, Ontario, where he teaches labour law, constitutional law and human rights law. Before becoming an academic, he practiced labour law and refugee law for a decade in Ottawa and Toronto. He also worked for the United Nations on human rights and refugee issues in Jerusalem.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the
Special Proceduresof 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 Page: Occupied Palestinian Territory
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