MUSAWA and CSOs Conduct Legal Workshop: “The Excessive Use of Power against Peaceful Assemblies: the International Law and Human Rights Violations Involved”
As part of incorporating the Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) into its programs and policies, MUSAWA along with Dr. Haider Abdel Shafi Center for Culture & Development and the International Commission for Supporting the Palestinians’ Rights (HASHD), conducted a legal workshop in Al-Odeh refugee camp on Sunday May 6th 2018, under the title: “The Excessive Use of Power against Peaceful Assemblies: the International Law and Human Rights Violations Involved”.
The speakers included MUSAWA’s Legal Awareness & Training Officer, Adv. Momen Hattab; Mr. Mohsen Abu Ramadan from Dr. Haider Abdel Shafi Center; HASHD’s Programs Manager, Adv. Islam Sukkar; and holder of PhD degree in law, Mohammad Al Wakeel. The workshop was concluded by calling for the necessary legal protection for peaceful Palestinian protestors on the eastern border of the Gaza Strip, with a view to prevent and limit further violations against the peaceful protestors. In addition, the participants demanded that an ad hoc session of the Human Rights Council be held to establish and set up an investigation team to look into the crimes committed against the occupied Palestinian territories on the eastern border of the Gaza Strip, and to pressure the occupation government to abide by the rules of international humanitarian law and the human rights, in particular the right to life.
Speakers at the workshop, including Adv. Islam Sukkar, referred to the Fourth Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilians and the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, which considers that the occupation is merely a state of international armed conflict. Additionally, Adv. Islam stressed that the Geneva Conventions are considered one of the most important rules of international humanitarian law applicable to the Palestinian situation, given that they prohibit and criminalize the acts of the occupation as grave breaches that constitute war crimes under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, in particular Article 8 of the Rome Statute.
In his turn, Dr. Mohammad Al Wakeel stressed that the right of return is an inalienable right that is internationally guaranteed. He also stated that on March 30, 2018, the Israeli army used excessive force against the Palestinian peaceful protestors, killing and injuring many of them. According to the latest official statistics, 45 Palestinians were killed and 7945 injured, 24 of which resulted in amputation. He also affirmed peaceful assembly as a right stipulated in national legislation as well as international treaties and conventions. This is stipulated in the Amended Basic Law of 2003, Article 26, "The right to peaceful assembly", in addition to UN resolutions, in particular Resolution 194, which provided for the right of return for Palestinians, And the Fourth Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilians and the First Protocol on the Protection of Civilians.
Furthermore, Dr. Mohammad Al Wakeel pointed out that all the acts and attacks committed by the Israeli army against the Palestinian peaceful protestors constitute a war crime, as stipulated in Article 14 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, and Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that attacks on civilians should be considered war crimes.
Mr. Mohsen Abu Ramadan, a representative of Dr. Haider Abdel Shafi Center, addressed the importance of this legal meeting, which reflects the keenness of CSOs to establish partnerships and unifying efforts. He stressed that the March of Return protests are a form of popular movement which sheds light on the role of collective peaceful work, and he demanded that this popular movement shall maintain its national nature making sure that it would not be used by any political party in any manner whatsoever.
At the end of the workshop, the participants recommended to demand the Palestinian diplomacy actors to turn to the International Criminal Court and the UN bodies, including the Security Council and the General Assembly, in implementation of the UN Resolution No. 194 which guarantees the Palestinian people their inherent right to return to their homes.
This workshop comes as part of the legal clinic program which MUSAWA conducts both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip throughout the year. The total number of participants is 35, including 5 women. The participants varied from legal professionals and lawyers to journalists and community activists.