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UN Security Council letter urges full investigation into breaches of international law in Gaza

18 March, 2009 - by Martina Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has welcomed the open letter from 16 of the world’s most experienced investigators and judges to the UN Secretary General and the UN Security Council calling for a full international investigation into alleged abuses of international law during the recent conflict in Gaza and Southern Israel.

Ms de Brún, who has recently returned from a cross-party MEP fact finding mission to Gaza, said: 

“Having witnessed first hand the situation in Gaza and spoken with many Palestinians on the ground there I see a clear need for a commitment to international human rights standards.

“Many of the people I met and talked with don't feel there is any safety or security for their future and want a commitment that the same thing will not happen again as happened in the three week air assault and ground offensive in December and January. This must include mechanisms of accountability.

“A number of Israeli human rights organisations have indicated evidence of international humanitarian law breaches, and questions about the behaviour and policy of the Israeli forces, including the deliberate targeting and killing of civilians and the denial of emergency medical aid to the injured.

“I welcome this call for a full investigation into breaches of international law in Gaza during the recent conflict there.” ENDS


1. Bairbre de Brún met with number of  Israeli human rights organisations including B'tselem (The Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories), Gisha (The Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement) and the Director for the Occupied Palestinian Territories of Physicians for Human Rights.

She also met with international organisations including UNRWA and Human Rights Watch.

2. The letter is signed by 16 of the world's most experienced investigators and judges, who between them have led investigations of crimes committed informer Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Darfur, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, East Timor, Lebanon and Peru. The list includes Antonio Cassese (First President and Judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and Head of the UN Inquiry on Darfur) and Richard Goldstone (Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda and Chairman of the UN Inquiry on Kosovo), as well as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Dr. Mary Robinson.

The signatories say that they have been ‘shocked to the core’ by events in Gaza, and argue that they ‘have seen at first hand the importance of investigating the truth and delivering justice for the victims of conflict and believe it is a precondition to move forward and achieve peace in the Middle East’.

The letter calls for the establishment of a United Nations commission of inquiry into the Gaza conflict that:

  • has a mandate to carry out a prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigation of all allegations of serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by all parties to the conflict;
  • acts in accordance with the strictest international standards governing such investigations;
  • can provide recommendations as to the appropriate prosecution of those responsible for gross violations of the law by the relevant authorities. 

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