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UN: Secretary-General Should Evaluate Gaza Inquiries

Objective Assessment of Israeli, Hamas Investigations Will Promote Justice

(New York) - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should provide an analytic, evaluative report on Israeli and Hamas investigations into alleged laws-of-war violations during the Gaza conflict, as requested by the General Assembly, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the secretary-general made public today.

Human Rights Watch said the report, due by February 5, 2010, should go beyond a restatement of the parties' claims about their investigations and instead critically assess whether the investigations have been credible and independent.

"Secretary-General Ban should resist taking the easy way out by simply repeating what Israel and Hamas tell him about their investigations," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "Only a critical evaluation of what they have or have not done will help end the impunity that is a major impediment to peace."

In a resolution adopted on November 5, 2009, the General Assembly called on Israel and Hamas to undertake within three months "independent, credible" investigations, "in conformity with international standards," into serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by Israel and Hamas documented by the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, also known as the Goldstone report. The resolution also asked the secretary-general to report back to the General Assembly on implementation of the resolution within three months.

The resolution calling for the secretary-general's report passed by a vote of 114 to 18, with 44 abstentions. Several European countries, including Slovenia, Portugal, Ireland, and Switzerland, voted in favor of the resolution, and more than two dozen others abstained.

In his letter, Roth commended Ban for speaking out forcefully in favor of accountability in the Gaza conflict. On October 28, Ban told the media that "wherever and whenever there is violation of international human rights law and international humanitarian laws, there should be necessary investigation and the perpetrators of these crimes and violation of human rights should be held accountable."

"We hope that Secretary-General Ban follows his strong words on justice with action," Roth said. "An objective, analytical report from his office that critically assesses the Israeli and Hamas investigations will promote the justice that is so desperately needed to end this conflict."

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