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Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Goldstone Commission: Biased from the outset

The Goldstone Commission, which was set up by the United Nations 'Human Rights Council' to 'investigate' Operation Cast Lead is due to issue its report soon - there were rumors before the Sabbath that it would come out today (Saturday) but so far no sign of it. In a post on Friday, Melanie Phillips described the inherent bias of the Commission. Here's its mandate:
an urgent, independent international fact-finding mission, to be appointed by the President of the Council, to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying Power, Israel, against the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, due to the current aggression, and calls upon Israel not to obstruct the process of investigation and to fully cooperate with the mission.
Please note that Judge Goldstone has denied the charges of bias by claiming that he 'changed' the mandate to allow investigations into 'war crimes' by 'both sides.' That's why the Israeli government has not cooperated with this Commission. Its mandate was biased from the outset and it had decided before it heard a single witness that Israel was guilty of 'war crimes.'

Now let's look at the Commission's members.
Goldstone himself [pictured. CiJ] is utterly compromised by accepting the terms of this rigged mandate which is an affront to justice. As Eye on the UN reports, although he claims to have changed this mandate through informal conversations, this is a load of hooey:

Goldstone, a lawyer and former judge, knows full well that he has no jurisdiction or authority to change the mandate either alone or in informal conversation with anyone. His claims to the contrary, therefore, are a serious ethical and legal breach both to the critics who have accused him of assuming a position tainted from the outset, and to the Council itself.

Now look at the objectivity of the other members of the Commission. Like Goldstone, Ms Hina Jilani and Col Desmond Travers signed a letter last March stating that events in Gaza had ‘shocked us to the core’ and calling for an investigation into ‘crimes perpetrated against civilians by both sides.’ So all three have already declared Israel guilty of such crimes – and as for the other side, their abuses lie outside the Commission’s scope.

Now look at the fourth member of this objective ‘fact-finding’ Commission, Christine Chinkin, Professor of International Law at the London School of Economics.

Last January, she signed a letter in the Times which stated: ‘Israel's bombardment of Gaza is not self-defence - it's a war crime.’ It went on: ‘The rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas deplorable as they are, do not, in terms of scale and effect amount to an armed attack entitling Israel to rely on self-defence...Israel's actions amount to aggression, not self-defence’. Instead, ‘its invasion and bombardment of Gaza amounts to collective punishment of Gaza’s 1.5m inhabitants contrary to international humanitarian and human rights law’.

What do you believe the chances are that Israel would get a fair hearing from any of these four. I would say that they're somewhere between slim and none.

Bonus: Judge Goldstone was a member of the Board of Directors of Marc Garlasco's Human Rights Watch until he was called on it by NGO Monitor and resigned.

Fair hearing? I doubt it.

Read the whole thing.


At 5:34 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

The terms of the Goldstone Commission's reference announced Israel guilty in advance of any "investigation." And the background of its members gives no confidence in their impartiality. So Israel can expect no good to come out of any report it might issue in respect to Operation Cast Lead.

What could go wrong indeed


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