Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sri Lanka: Kohona notes Gaza abuses

The UN Special Committee on Israeli Practices in the Occupied Territories, led by Ambassador Palitha Kohona, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in New York, expressed serious concerns about the human rights situation in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank -including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan.

“Victims of the systematic and often arbitrary restrictions on human rights and basic freedoms have the right to see justice prevail,” the UN quoted Ambassador Palitha T.B. Kohona, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in New York, and Chairman of the Committeeas saying at the end of a 13-day fact-finding visit to Cairo, Amman and Damascus. “Violations must cease,” he added.

“The testimonies that we have heard attest to a failure to address the long-standing pattern of serious violations of human rights,” Ambassador Kohona noted. In the past two weeks, the three-member Committee has heard the testimonies of dozens of witnesses from across the occupied Palestinian territory and the occupied Syrian Golan, recounting their first-hand experiences of life under occupation.

Since the Committee’s establishment, the Government of Israel has failed to accommodate its requests to visit the occupied territories. The Committee has benefited from the cooperation of representatives from the Governments of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, whose countries the Committee visited.

This year’s mission began just days after the Israeli military interception, in international waters, of a flotilla of ships carrying aid for Gaza that resulted in 9 deaths and scores of injuries; and one-and-a-half years after the December 2008 / January 2009 Israeli military offensive on Gaza, known as ‘Operation Cast Lead’.

The Special Committee also met with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, and with the Secretary General of the League of Arab States, and exchanged views on the latest developments in the occupied territories.

The Special Committee will present a mission report to the UN General Assembly in November 2010, with its observations and recommendations to improve the human rights situation for those whose lives are affected by occupation.

© Daily Mirror

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