Friday, March 23, 2007

Gaza continues to be an imprisoned society, says UN rights envoy

Gaza continues to be an imprisoned society, says Dugard

Submitted by Tarique on Fri, 2007-03-23 05:56. Muslim World News

Geneva, March 23 (NNN-KUNA) UN Special Rapporteur for the situation of Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) John Dugard said that Gaza is an imprisoned society and the prisoner has made several military incursions.

Dugard told the Human Rights Council Thursday that elements of colonialism and apartheid are both prelevant in Israeli practices against the Palestinian people and noted that colonialism and apartheid are contrary to international law.

He added that there are similarities between apartheid of the former regime in South Africa and now in the OPT exercised by Israel.

Israel has learnt the lesson of apartheid by not showing their apartheid practices but the results are the same regime of oppression.

Dugard noted that more than 460,000 Israeli settlers live in the West bank and East Jerusalem.

He questioned whether the International Court of Justice has an advisory opinion on this unlawful state.

In his report submitted to the Council, Dugard argued in favour of a new advisory opinion from the International Court of justice on Israel's occupation of the Palestinian Territories.

He said, in his new report, that it must be remembered that the United Nations requested four advisory opinions from the International Court of Justice to guide it in its approach to South Africa's occupation of South, West Africa/Namibia.

"In these circumstances a request for another advisory opinion warrants serious consideration," he stressed.

The Special Rapporteur poses several questions like what are the legal consequences of a regime of occupation that has continued for nearly 40 years.

He said clearly none of the obligations imposed on the occupying power are reduced as a result of such a prolonged occupation. But what are the legal consequences when such a regime has acquired some of the characteristics of colonialism and apartheid, he said.

"Does it continue to be a lawful regime. Or does it cease to be a lawful regime, particularly in respect of measures aimed at the occupants' own interests.

"And if this is the position, what are the legal consequences for the occupied people, the occupying power and third states. Should questions of this kind not be addressed to the International Court of Justice for a further advisory opinion?

"It is true that the 2004 Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory has not had the desired effect," Dugard said.

Following his visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and Israel from Dec 1 to 8 2006, Dugard said that the Occupied Palestinian Territory is of special importance to the future of human rights in the world.

"Human rights in Palestine have been on the agenda of the United Nations for 60 years; and more particularly for the past 40 years since the occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967.

"For years the occupation of Palestine and apartheid in South Africa vied for attention from the international community. In 1994, apartheid came to an end and Palestine became the only developing country in the world under the subjugation of a Western-affiliated regime.

"Herein lies its significance to the future of human rights," he added.

There are other regimes, he said, particularly in the developing world, that suppresses human rights, but there is no other case of a Western-affiliated regime that denies self-determination and human rights to a developing people and that has done so for so long.

"This explains why the OPT has become a test for the West, a test by which its commitment to human rights is to be judged. If the West fails this test, it can hardly expect the developing world to address human rights violations seriously in its own countries, and the West appears to be failing this test," he noted.

The EU, he added, pays conscience money to the Palestinian people through the Temporary International Mechanism but nevertheless joins the United States and other Western countries, such as Australia and Canada, in failing to put pressure on Israel to accept Palestinian self-determination and to discontinue its violations of human rights.

The Quartet, he said, comprising the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and the Russian Federation, is a party to this failure.

"If the West, which has hitherto led the promotion of human rights throughout the world, cannot demonstrate a real commitment to the human rights of the Palestinian people, the international human rights movement, which can claim to be the greatest achievement of the international community of the past 60 years, will be endangered and placed in jeopardy," stressed Dugard.

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