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UN experts call for Gaza war crimes investigation

Maan News Agency

UN experts Nov. 27 called for prompt, transparent and independent investigations into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the Gaza Strip, since Israel's new military offensive began last month. "Independent investigators must be given the necessary resources, support and access required to conduct prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into crimes allegedly committed by all parties to the conflict," the experts said, calling on Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the de facto authorities in Gaza to cooperate fully with investigations.

"The duty to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity, including any act of summary or extrajudicial killing, torture or other outrages on human dignity, is a fundamental legal obligation," they said.

They also called for the Hamas attacks on Israel that prompted the current Israeli campaign in Gaza to be included in the scope of investigations.

The experts urged the international community to ensure that all those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, especially persons with command responsibility, are promptly brought to justice. "There is no statute of limitation for such crimes, and they fall under universal jurisdiction, which means that courts in any country can exercise their authority to prosecute those responsible, regardless of their nationality and the country where the crimes were committed," they said. "We encourage all States to play a proactive role in identifying key suspected perpetrators and helping to facilitate prosecutions through the principle of mutual legal assistance."

For international standards in such investigations, the experts referred to the Revised Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Crimes of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Istanbul Protocol) and the Revised United Nations Manual on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions (Minnesota Protocol).

They noted ongoing investigations by the International Criminal Court and the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and offered the support of their mandates and expertise, including in forensic sciences, to advise and assist in these efforts.

The experts include Morris Tidball-Binz, special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and Alice Jill Edwards, special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. (OCHR)

As accusations of war crimes and even genocide mount against Israel, it continues to reject the authority of the International Criminal Court.