UN Human Rights Council unveils panel to probe deadly interception of Gaza flotilla

23 July 2010

The United Nations Human Rights Council today announced the names of the three experts who will serve on a fact-finding mission to investigative violations of international law resulting from Israel’s interception of a flotilla of aid ships bound for the Gaza Strip, which led to the deaths of nine civilians.

Judge Karl T. Hudson-Phillips of Trinidad and Tobago, Sir Desmond de Silva of the United Kingdom and Mary Shanthi Dairiam of Malaysia will comprise the panel, the Council’s President, Ambassador Sihasak Phuangketkeow of Thailand, said.

Mr. Phuangketkeow called on all parties to fully cooperate with the fact-finding mission, saying he hoped its work would contribute to peace and justice in the region.

“The expertise, independence and impartiality of the members of the mission will be devoted to clarifying the events which took place that day and their legality,” he noted.

The three experts will now map out their plan of action and contact all relevant parties before they travel to the region, according to a press statement issued by the Human Rights Council. The panel is then expected to report on its finding to the Council at a session in September.

The Council ordered the formation of a fact-finding mission on 2 June, three days after members of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) intercepted the convoy of six ships in international waters. The flotilla was trying to deliver aid to Gaza, which has been the subject of an Israeli blockade since 2007. Nine people were killed and dozens more were wounded.

The head of the panel is yet to be determined. Judge Hudson-Phillips served as a judge on the International Criminal Court (ICC) between 2003 and 2007, Sir Desmond was the Chief Prosecutor at the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in 2005 and Ms. Dairiam has been a member of UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Gender Equality Task Force since 2007.

A spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted today that while he hoped the Council’s panel receives the full cooperation of all parties, discussions continue on his own proposal for an international panel into the incident.


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