GENEVA (27 November 2023) – UN experts* today called for prompt, transparent and independent investigations into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity, perpetrated in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territory on 7 October 2023 and thereafter. They urged all parties to the ongoing armed conflict to protect civilians and comply with their obligations under international law.
“Independent investigators must be given the necessary resources, support and access required to conduct prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into crimes allegedly committed by all parties to the conflict,” the experts said, calling on Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the de facto authorities in Gaza to cooperate fully with investigations.
“The duty to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity, including any act of summary or extrajudicial killing, torture or other outrages on human dignity, is a fundamental legal obligation,” they said.
The experts urged the international community to ensure that all those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as any other international crimes committed in the conflict, especially persons with command responsibility, are promptly brought to justice.
“There is no statute of limitation for such crimes, and they fall under universal jurisdiction, which means that courts in any country can exercise their authority to prosecute those responsible, regardless of their nationality and the country where the crimes were committed,” they said. “We encourage all States to play a proactive role in identifying key suspected perpetrators and helping to facilitate prosecutions through the principle of mutual legal assistance.”
The experts recalled that reliable evidence, gathered by independent and impartial investigators, including forensic specialists experienced in investigating violations of international humanitarian law, is essential for successful prosecutions, and that investigations must comply with international standards. The experts referred to the Revised Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Crimes of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Istanbul Protocol) and the Revised United Nations Manual on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions (Minnesota Protocol).
They welcomed ongoing investigations by the International Criminal Court and the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, to examine and document all existing evidence of crimes committed to date in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.
“We stress that for the purposes of healing, recovery, reconciliation and justice, victims and survivors, and their families, should be able to participate in any proceedings,” the experts said.
They offered the support of their mandates and their expertise, including in forensic sciences, to advise and assist in this effort.
*The experts: Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Alice Jill Edwards, Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
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.
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The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Eleonore Mandra - [email protected]
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