Today, 31 May, Al-Haq will present an oral statement to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council for its 23rd session. The statement will be delivered during the General Debate on “Item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development” and will focus on access to justice and corporate complicity in human rights abuses.
Al-Haq will highlight the case it filed against Riwal in 2010. Riwal is a Dutch company involved in the construction of the Annexation Wall and the settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). During the Dutch Public Prosecutor’s investigation of the complaint Riwal corporate premises and the private homes of Riwal executives were searched. On 14 May 2013, the Dutch Public Prosecutor announced the decision to dismiss the case.
Although the investigation itself represents an initial warning to European companies involved in business with Israeli counterparts in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), it provides nothing in the way of restitution for victims of these crimes, who remain isolated from their land and livelihood. Al-Haq believes that the unsatisfactory decision by the Dutch Public Prosecutor illustrates the need for States to implement measures that ensure that private actors under their jurisdiction do not contribute in any way to violations of international law.
The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Geneva for Human Rights, FIAN International and Al Haq have also organised a legal seminar of international experts who will meet today to discuss corporate complicity, access to justice and the international legal framework for corporate accountability. In the afternoon a side event co-sponsored by Al-Haq on access to justice and corporate complicity in human rights abuses will take place. The event marks the fifth anniversary of the Human Rights Council adoption of the Framework “Protect, Respect and Remedy”, and the publication of the ICJ Report on “Corporate complicity in international crimes”. A victim of the Riwal case will attend the side event and provide a testimony on the impact that the Annexation Wall and settlement expansion have on his livelihood.
Under “Item 7: The human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories” Al-Haq and the Cairo Institute of Human Rights Studies will present an oral statement on 10 June. The oral statement will highlight the lack of access to legal remedies for Palestinian victims of human rights abuses resulting from Israel’s settlement activity and the consequent need for recourse to legal mechanisms in Third States. Al-Haq will also submit a joint written statement under Item 7 with Badil, Al Mezan and Habitat International Coalition. The statement addresses the report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements and highlights the Third State obligation not to recognise Israel’s conduct as lawful, not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the illegal situation and to cooperate to bring it to an end.
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