UN submission: Unlawful transfer of protected persons
[12 November 2015] – Today, MCW lodged a submission with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention relating to the unlawful transfer and detention of Palestinian minors from the West Bank to prisons located inside Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
According to evidence provided by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) an average of 88 per cent of Palestinian detainees from the West Bank, including minors, are transferred and detained inside Israel. It is currently estimated that this affects between 7,000 to 8,000 Palestinians each year and is classified under international law as a war crime.
As part of its mandate, the Working Group has jurisdiction to consider practices that are “inconsistent with the relevant international standards set forth … in the relevant international legal instruments accepted by the States concerned”. In this respect it is to be noted that both Israel and Palestine are parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, and since 1 April 2015, Palestine is a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
The submission requests that the Working Group:
- Issues a communication confirming that the policy of successive Israeli governments of forcibly transferring Palestinian prisoners from the occupied West Bank to prisons located inside Israel constitutes a grave breach and war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention and Rome Statute respectively; and
- Identifies, in general terms, the categories of office holders most likely to be at risk of legal liability as a result of maintaining, implementing, aiding or abetting the policy of successive governments of forcibly transferring protected persons from occupied territory since June 1967.
The submission notes that in circumstances where the uncontested evidence establishes that for more than 48 years the policy of the State of Israel has been to transfer and detain protected persons from occupied territory to Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention raises a strong case for action. Further, due to the longevity, gravity and evidentiary strength of the case, a failure to act poses a serious risk of bringing the international legal order and its institutions into disrepute with legal implications extending well beyond Israel and Palestine.