In a night-time raid in late July, the IDF seized computers, hard drives and other confidential documents from the offices of the NGO Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) in Al-Bireh, the four independent UN bodies said human rights experts, calling for the immediate return of documents and office equipment.
“The indispensable work of Palestinian, Israeli and international civil society organizations provided an indispensable measure of accountability documenting and scrutinizing discouraging human rights trends in the occupied Palestinian territory, ”they said in a statement.
The Special Rapporteurs noted that in recent years, DCIP has provided a “critical and reliable” account of patterns of arrests, mutilations and murders of Palestinian children by the IDF in the occupied West Bank, including including East Jerusalem and Gaza.
“Silencing or obstructing these activities violates the fundamental human rights of expression and association, which Israel has pledged to respect by ratifying the two international covenants of 1966,” they said, referring to one on civil and political rights and the other on economic, social and cultural rights
From the start of the year until the end of last month, Israeli military forces killed 11 Palestinian children in the West Bank, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
This figure is higher than the total recorded for the whole of 2020.
In addition, in a conflict that erupted last May between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, 67 Palestinian children were reportedly killed in the occupied enclave.
“All civilian lives under occupation are protected by international law. This is particularly true for children’s rights, ”the experts recalled.
Probes “at arm’s length”
Amid long-standing criticism of the lack of “transparent and impartial investigations” into apparent violations of Palestinian human rights by the Israeli military, UN experts called on the government of Israel to “work on it” with the international community ”to establish an impartial body to conduct“ transparent, independent and public inquiries ”into the deaths.
They stressed that investigations must comply with international law and apply lessons learned thereafter to “vigorously avoid such a pattern of tragedy in the future”.
UN experts called on the Israeli government to fully respect the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which was adopted in 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, claiming that an occupying power with genuine commitment to human rights would “protect and encourage” human rights defenders. , and “not to ostracize, harass or silence them”.
Moreover, this power would respect the “critical examination” of their work – even if the defenders “scratch” their conduct.
And if they were to carry out “a long-term military occupation”, the special rapporteurs declared that the occupying power should accept the violation of human rights “only as a last measure …
The special rapporteurs who signed the declaration were Michael Lynk, on the human rights situation in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967; Irene Khan, on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression; Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; and Mary Lawlor, on the situation of human rights defenders.
They are neither UN employees nor paid for their work.