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Amnesty, HRW: US, Security Council must ensure justice is done

Oct. 3, 2009 3:07 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 4, 2009 10:10 A.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The six-months between now and the next UN Human Rights Council meeting must be used by Israelis and Palestinians to conduct the independent investigations into war crimes they committed, as the Goldstone report suggested, and the governments must report their progress on their inquiries to the UN Security Council, Amnesty International suggested Saturday.

Human Rights Watch echoed the call, saying US intervention to quash a vote on the report “obliges the United States and other governments blocking action at the council to press Israel and Hamas to commence credible investigations.”

The calls were precipitated by representative of Pakistan to the UN Human Rights council Zamir Akram, speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Arab group, the African group and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), requesting that discussion of the resolution on the Goldstone report - whether or not to endorse its findings - be deferred until the next session to allow more time for members to consider the contents of the fact-finding probe.

In effect, the report has been sidelined until March 2010.

Palestinians from all political walks came out and condemned the move calling it a betrayal of the more than 1,400 Gazans killed during the Israeli war, with demands for the Palestine Liberation Organization to justify their actions coming from a coalition of Palestinian human rights organizations, and strong accusations of American pressure to make the move.

US Assistant Secretary for International Organizations and representative at the UN Human Rights Council Esther Brimmer did not deny US pressure for dropping the vote on the resolution. In a news conference in Washington DC on Friday, she said the United States was “grateful that that’s the approach that was taken by the parties to the report at this point. And the parties will now continue to look at it and prepare for the next session in March.”

Asked directly how much pressure the US put on Palestine to drop the report, Brimmer said, “This was an issue for those who brought the resolution, and I’m not going to comment on views and activities of others to say that we were happy to see that the parties were working constructively at the Human Rights Council.”

In their response to the sequence of events, Amnesty highlighted the remaining possibilities to retain the spirit of the Goldstone report. “Deferral provides both the Israeli government and the Hamas de facto administration in Gaza with one last opportunity to conduct independent investigations, meeting international standards, into violations that took place during the conflict,” the organization suggested.

With that in mind the group called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon “to refer the report to the UN Security Council without delay,” so the Seurity Council can monitor the progress of the independent investigations.

"If, within the set period of six months, the Israeli Government and the Hamas administration have proved unable or unwilling to conduct credible investigations, then the Security Council should refer the situation to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court," the Amnesty statement concluded.

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