This morning, on Tuesday 23 April 2013, the
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) opened the international legal
conference it organizes in Malaga, titled “Pursuing justice and redress for Palestinian
victims: developing strategies for advocacy and litigation”. This is the fourth
conference of its kind organized by PCHR, in close cooperation with
international partners, especially Al Quds Malaga, and attended by Palestinian,
Israeli, and international human rights organizations and lawyers.
During the first day, the participants offered their
analysis of the procedures in place in the Israeli civil and criminal legal
systems. Through sharing their experiences of litigating on behalf of Palestinian
victims of Israeli violations, the participants in the conference aim to
develop effective legal and advocacy strategies.
This conference relates, amongst other issues, to
recent developments within the Israeli legal system, which are effectively blocking
nearly all avenues for access to justice for Palestinian victims. The most
recent of these developments is Amendment No. 8 to the Israeli Tort Law, which
came into force in 2012. This amendmentabsolves the State of Israel of any
liability arising from damages caused to a resident of an enemy territory
during a “combat action”, and has led to the dismissal of a number of civil
complaints submitted by PCHR on behalf of victims of Israeli military attacks
in the Gaza Strip.
Discussion also centred around other legal, practical,
and procedural obstacles that have been put in place over a number of years, and
which have made it practically impossible for victims to pursue accountability
and their right to redress.
PCHR is convening the conference with the aim of
developing possible legal and advocacy strategies for moving forward. These challenges to
access to justice must be addressed through in-depth discussions involving many
human rights organizations and lawyers who should adopt a unified position. If
it is concluded that the domestic legal system is blocked, this means
international legal mechanisms for justice are the only available alternatives
available to victims, such as the International Criminal Court, following the
recognition of Palestine as a State by the UN General Assembly.