UN human rights chief appeals for cooperation in Gaza probe

15 June 2009
Boy flees an explosion in the Gaza Strip [File Photo]

The top United Nations human rights official today called for an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza and cooperation with an investigation mandated by the Human Rights Council of the recent conflict there.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told the Geneva-based Council in Geneva that the ongoing heavy import restrictions and near total prohibition of exports have negative cumulative effects on the realization of a wide range of economic, social and cultural rights, as well as civil and political rights, of the Gaza population.

“Gazans’ rights continue to be severely undermined or violated,” she stated. “These crippling conditions must be eased. Ultimately, the blockade and other restrictions that violate human rights must be lifted.”

Ms. Pillay said that reports of human rights violations by both sides “must be investigated by credible, independent and transparent accountability mechanisms, respectful of international standards of due process.

“All parties concerned, as well as States and the international community as a whole, should extend full support and cooperation to all such accountability efforts,” she said. “In particular, I stress the need for full cooperation with, unimpeded access to, and support of, the ongoing work of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission mandated by the Human Rights Council and headed by Justice Richard Goldstone.”

The Council appointed Mr. Goldstone to lead an independent team of investigators to study the allegations of human rights violations in the fighting between 27 December and 18 January. The team visited Gaza from 1 to 5 June, entering through Egypt after having been denied access through Israel.

The President of the Council, Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi, today said that the team members “have not lost hope of visiting areas of southern Israel and the West Bank, although this has not yet been possible as they have not received a positive response from the Government of Israel to repeated requests for cooperation.”


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