A press release I’ve received
Miliband, Hutton & Mandelson to face historic Gaza legal challenge for breaking international law brought to court by Palestinian NGO
As many of you will be aware, the Gaza Legal Aid Fund, to be administered by the Human Rights Legal Aid Trust, was launched at the City Circle on 23 January. Its function is to provide financial support to Palestinian civilians seeking legal redress from alleged human rights violations by the Israeli government and alleged British government complicity.
Al-Haq, an independent Palestinian non-governmental organisation will, on Tuesday 24 February 2009, begin historical legal proceedings against the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband, Defence Secretary John Hutton, and Trade & Industry Secretary (now the Secretary of State for Business Enterprise, and Regulatory Reform) Peter Mandelson.
Al Haq are making an application for judicial review of a policy decision, made by the three Secretaries of State, stating that they will not change their position with respect to the UKâ€™s relations with Israel, in order for the UK Government to be fully compliant with international law.
The UKâ€™s obligations under international law insofar as the attacks on civilians in Gaza are concerned, include; not rendering aid or assistance to Israel, and not recognising the illegal situation it has created in Gaza. They should co-operate with other states using all lawful means to bring the situation to an end.
As far as the UKâ€™s obligation not to render aid or assistance is concerned, it should be noted that in the first quarter of 2008 there was a huge increase in the amount of arms related products to Israel approved through the UK arms export licensing system. The amount approved was Â£20m. By way of comparison, the amount approved for the whole of 2004 was Â£12m.
The papers on an application for judicial review are being lodged on Tuesday 24 February in the High Court of Justice by Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers, prior to the press conference being held that morning at 11.00am.
You are urged to attend the press conference from 10:50am to 11:20am, Tuesday 24 February outside The High Court (Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London, WC2A 2LL).
Donate to the Gaza Legal Aid Fund via Paypal on www.hrlegalaid.com
Shawan Jabarin, General Director of Al-Haq, which works to protect human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories says: â€œConsidering the UKâ€™s historical role in the region and its continued arms sales to Israel, Al-Haq has come to the UK with the belief that the judicial system of the UK will provide, at the very least, hope for the Palestinian people and again provide meaning to the principle of justice and international law. The time for hiding behind words has ended.”
Phil Shiner (Public Interest Lawyers) who is leading the case on behalf of Al-Haq says: “The UK has clear international law obligations to do something effective to stop Israelâ€™s attacks on Palestinian civilians. It must cooperate with other states using all lawful means to bring the situation to an end and it must stop giving aid and assistance to Israel. This means that the UKâ€™s continuing policy of arms trading with Israel is completely out of bounds, as is our role in continuing with the EU preferential trading agreement. The point of this case is to make the Government focus on what it is legally obliged to do, beyond ineffective hand-wringing pleas for Israel to behave properly, which, to date, have fallen on deaf ears.”
Mary Nazzal-Batayneh, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Human Rights Legal Aid Trust says: “We have been very encouraged by the global support for the Gaza Legal Aid Fund which seeks to provide Palestinians with the much needed financial assistance to be able to access international courts of justice. Israel and its allies must be sent a clear message that they are not above the law; that they are not immune; and that they will be held accountable.â€
For more information please contact Rashad Yaqoob or Ruben Wilberg on 07970 557 304, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Filed in: Civil liberties,Current affairs,Middle East