Gaza Declaration From the International Association of Democratic Lawyers
September 29th, 2012, Gaza City
From September 24thto 28th, 2012, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), a non-governmental organization of progressive lawyers from all over the world with consultative status in Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), held its bureau meeting in Gaza, occupied Palestine. We came to show our solidarity with the Palestinian people and their cause and to lift our voices in affirming the basic rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, and an end to the illegal occupation and closure of the Gaza Strip.
The IADL met with the Palestinian Bar Association, the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), human rights organizations, women’s rights organizations, international organizations, Palestinian political factions, and government officials.. We visited with the Prime Minister and The Minister of Justice. We held discussions with representatives of all political parties and affected individuals. Throughout these events and meetings, the IADL was able to gain first-hand information on the prevailing situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly in the Gaza Strip.
The struggle of the Palestinian people is a just struggle to which IADL commits its support.
WE THEREFORE DECLARE:
Self-determination and an End to the Occupation
We affirm the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, independence, and statehood, including the realization and protection of their inalienable rights. Self-determination is a basic right of all peoples enshrined in Article 1 of the United Nations Charter, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic Social, and Cultural Rights.
We affirm the illegality of the belligerent Israeli occupation, and support the Palestinians’ right to territorial integrity, and an end to the occupation.
IADL calls for the immediate end of the occupation.
End Impunity for Crimes
We condemn Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, illegal acts of aggression, including the closure of Gaza, as well as many war crimes and crimes against humanity. We condemn Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law and basic human rights law.
We condemn all acts of aggression against the Palestinian people, including targeted killings of civilians.
We affirm that the international community has a responsibility to end the impunity Israel currently enjoys, mainly due to the strong support of the United States.
We affirm the right to bring cases against identified perpetrators of war crimes under the principle of universal jurisdiction.
The IADL calls on the United Nations to immediately implement the recommendations made in the Goldstone Report.
Maintenance of a culture of impunity is a threat to public international law and world peace.
Release of Palestinian Prisoners and an End to Torture
IADL condemns the fact that thousands of Palestinians remain in Israeli jails. Many are held without charge under a continuing unjust regime of administrative detention.
Approximately 8,000 Palestinian children have been arrested since 2000. The arbitrary detention and ill-treatment of children are in clear violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as is the separation of children from their families.
Two distinct sentencing regimes lead to harsher sentences for Palestinian children, compared to Israeli children, recalling the practices of apartheid South Africa.
IADL has heard many claims of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment suffered by Palestinian prisoners and the denial of family visits by Israeli authorities. Many prisoners have engaged in hunger strikes to protest these conditions.
The Convention Against Torture prohibits these practices, and all those responsible for ordering and implementing the use of torture must be held accountable.
We call for the immediate and unconditional release of all Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, and an end to impunity for the torture of these prisoners.
Human Rights Violations and Collective Punishment
The closure of the Gaza Strip prevents the people of Gaza from exercising and enjoying their fundamental human rights to adequate housing, health care, education, work, water, development, and a healthy environment.
Life and water are inextricably linked. Israel’s policies prevent the Palestinian people from having access to this essential resource, as the closure has resulted in the lack of sewage treatment and desalination plants. This situation represents a direct threat to the existence of Gaza’s population, as the Gaza aquifer, their primary source of water, will be irreparably damaged by 2016 unless immediate remedial action is taken.
Israel’s closure of Gaza severely limits the availability of food, fuel, electricity, and construction materials, amongst many other items. The closure constitutes a direct threat to the livelihood and security of the people of Gaza. Restrictions on the freedom of movement to jobs and employment have caused a high unemployment rate, which leads to poverty, and widespread malnutrition.
Restrictions on access to agricultural land and fishing waters, enforced through arbitrary arrest and the use of force, aggravates the already high levels of poverty.
The IADL understands that the right to peace is only achieved once all human rights are fulfilled in an environment free from war, threats, and aggression. Israel’s illegal closure makes impossible the achievement of the right to peace, in violation of the first purpose and principle of the United Nations Charter.
The Israeli actions not only constitute illegal collective punishment of the entire population of the Gaza Strip, but are a precursor to genocide, and have resulted in crimes against humanity and war crimes.
We call on Israel as an occupying power not only to stop these violations of human rights, but to also ensure that all human rights are protected and respected.
Complicity of the International Community in Israeli War Crimes
The failure of the international community to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against the people of Palestine makes it complicit in these actions.
If the International Criminal Court continues to refuse to act on the case of Palestine, and if the Security Council fails to act to hold Israel accountable, the IADL calls upon the people of the world to demand the General Assembly to act under Article 22 of the United Nations Charter and set up a subsidiary body to investigate and prosecute these crimes.
IADL especially condemns the United States for its obstruction of the implementation of Security Council resolutions requiring Israel to recognize the rights of the Palestinian people, and for exercising its veto when any action critical of Israel comes before the United Nations.
IADL supports international efforts to boycott Israeli products, divest from Israeli business, and sanction Israel for its crimes.
We urgently call for all states to immediately put an end to any commercial transaction regarding weapons and military technology to and from Israel, in compliance with the general disarmament duties laid out in Article 26 of the UN Charter.
IADL confirms and declares that we shall work side by side with the Palestinian people in their pursuit to end the illegal occupation and realized their right to self-determination by:
1-Setting up and assisting in the coordination of an international network of jurists who stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people, and pledge to take up their cause all over the world, using all national and international legal instruments available to challenge Israeli impunity, end the illegal occupation, closure and consequent human rights violations;
2-To assist all our member organizations around the world to engage in promoting an economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel, as part of the international campaign for boycott, divestment, and sanctions.