Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Israel Detains UN Human Rights Envoy

DN! Israel Detains UN Human Rights Envoy:

"Israel Detains the UN Human Rights Envoy

The Israeli government has expelled the UN human rights envoy after detaining him at the Tel Aviv airport for more than twenty hours. The envoy, Richard Falk, serves as the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories. Falk has been a vocal critic of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians."

Related News Item:

“A clear attempt to censor criticisms against the Israeli policies”
, Barghouthi condemns Richard Falk's denial of entry
from Palestine Monitor by Palestinian National Initiative

Ramallah, 15-12-08: Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi MP, the Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, denounced today the denial of Professor Richard Falk, the UN special Rapporteur for the Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, from entering Palestine.

Richard Falk was denied of entry the country when landing at Lod airport in Israel, and was asked to “return where he came from” in Washington.

To the deputy it is obvious that the Israeli authorities denied the UN Rapporteur permission to enter the country because of his actions and reports denouncing the human rights violations carried out by the Israeli government in the occupied Palestinian Territories.

The denial occurred only a week after Richard Falk's statement affirming that “Israel's policies against the Palestinians are tantamount to a crime against humanity” and that “it would seem mandatory that the UN's International Criminal Court investigate Israel's policies in regard to the Palestinians.

Barghouthi added that the Israeli airport authorities refused to allow Richard Falk to embark on his planned visit to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, because of the UN official harsh criticism against the construction of the Apartheid Wall and the ongoing settlement activities. “It is indeed clear that Falk's denial of entry is aiming to prevent him from denouncing the Israeli crimes against Palestinians”, the deputy added.

To Mustafa Barghouthi, Israel's latest action confirms the country's disrespect of the United Nations, and violations of international law in the eyes of the international community “who remain largely silent over the crimes committed against the Palestinian people.”

Israel’s detention of UN expert ‘unprecedented’ – rights chief
Source: UN News Center
16 December 2008 –
Israel’s refusal to allow a United Nations expert to transit to carry out his officially mandated functions in the occupied Palestinian territory, his detention and subsequent expulsion is “unprecedented and deeply regrettable,” the world body’s top human rights official said today.

“It is the responsibility of States to cooperate with the independent United Nations experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay added of the treatment accorded the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, Richard Falk. “That is an important principle.”

She said she was taking the matter up directly with the Israeli authorities, including possible breaches of UN privileges and immunities in the treatment and detention of Mr. Falk at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, where he was stopped at immigration shortly after arriving on Sunday on a mission at the invitation of the Palestinian Authority.

He was denied entry to Israel and was subsequently separated from the UN staff accompanying him, she added in a statement. His UN-issued mobile phone was confiscated, making further contact with the Organization impossible until after his deportation to the United States on Monday.

He was kept in a detention facility at the airport, where he spent the night in a small room with several other people who were being denied entry into Israel, Ms. Pillay said. In all, Mr. Falk spent more than 20 hours in the airport, before being deposited on a plane to Los Angeles.

Special Rapporteurs, who are independent, unpaid experts reporting to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, do not require a formal invitation by Israel to carry out official missions to the occupied Palestinian territory. The Israeli Government did not prevent Mr. Falk’s predecessors or other Special Rapporteurs from transiting on their way to the occupied Palestinian territory, which cannot be reached directly from overseas, she added.

The Israeli authorities were informed in writing on two occasions, on14 October and 3 December, that Mr. Falk intended to make his first official visit to the occupied Palestinian territory, but no written reply was received indicating that they would break with previous practice of permitting Special Rapporteurs to transit until an e-mail that was sent Saturday night to a staff member of the High Commissioner’s office in Geneva.

The staff member was not in a position to read this e-mail before leaving with Mr. Falk for the airport the following morning.

UN Assembly President calls stories he tried to stop Israel speaking ‘malicious lie’
Source: UN News Center

15 December 2008 – United Nations General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto today called media stories that he tried to prevent Israel’s representative from speaking on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “a malicious and absolute lie.”

At the same time he said Israel’s detention and denial of entry of the independent UN human rights expert for the occupied Palestinian territory “reflects a dangerous decision by individual countries to rebuff UN mandates and UN-appointed mandate holders.”

Further, Mr. D’Escoto said very serious threats have appeared on the Internet against his life and the matter is being looked into by the pertinent authorities.

In a statement issued by his spokesman, he said the two actions concerning Israel are “not helpful or conducive for the climate of international harmony that he is trying to promote.”

The story that he had tried to prevent Israel’s representative from speaking “could best be characterized as ‘slander’ and in any court of law this is a criminal act,” the statement said.

“Information from the media attributes senior diplomatic officials in the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations as the source for this irresponsible accusation,” it added, noting that Mr. D’Escoto will meet Israel’s Ambassador to the UN later today to discuss the issues.

The statement said UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk was denied entry to Israel when he arrived at Tel Aviv airport with staff members from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on an official visit to carry out his mandate.

“He was attempting to carry out the obligations of his UN mandate, investigating the human rights violations affecting the protected civilian population of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the territories occupied by Israel since 1967,” it added. “Most urgently he intended to investigate the rising humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip resulting from the siege of Gaza’s 1.5 million population imposed by the occupying power.”

Other than two brief urgent telephone messages to the United States, Mr. Falk was held almost incommunicado for at least 30 hours and was now believed to have been put on a flight back to the US.

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