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Rights group receives UN experts in Gaza

Aug. 15, 2010 4:08 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 16, 2010 9:54 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights received on Sunday members of the UN Committee of Experts mandated with monitoring the effectiveness of internal probes into the Gaza war.

The committee, which includes jurists Christian Tomuschat, Mary McGowan and Davis Param Cumaraswamy, arrived in Gaza on Saturday for a three-day visit, and will meet with civil society representatives and UN organizations and groups as well as victims and witnesses who testified before the UN's independent fact-finding committee shortly after the winter 2008-09 war.

PCHR director Raji Sourani and the center's legal unit head Eyad Alami briefed the committee on its experience in taking cases before Israeli courts and "on the inherent flaws within the Israeli system which render the pursuit of justice for Palestinian victims impossible."

The meeting focused on the events occurring in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead and the 1,046 civil complaints filed by the group on behalf of victims to the compensation officer in the Israeli Ministry of Defense, as well as approximately 490 criminal complaints calling for investigations by the Israeli military prosecution. The group said only a handful of responses have been received.

Established in June 2010, the committee is specifically tasked with monitoring Israeli and Palestinian investigations into the deadly conflict in Gaza that left more than 1,400 people dead and injured 5,000 others and to supervise "the independence, effective and genuineness of the investigations and their conformity with international standards."

The Gaza-based human rights organization also discussed internal investigations carried out by both Palestinian governments, which it said "do not meet international requirements, and it must be concluded that the Palestinian authorities are unable to conduct effective investigations, and if appropriate, prosecutions with respect to the violations documented in the Goldstone Report."

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