By Xin Huang
For Northwest Asian Weekly
August 4, 2010
The United Nations Human Rights Council has established a panel to Investigate the Israeli raid on the Gaza Flotilla. The new chair of the Council, Ambassador Sihasak Phuangketkeow has appointed three preeminent experts to an independent fact-finding mission concerning the violations of international law during Israel’s raid on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance.
Ambassador Sihasak, in describing this mission, referred to the need to “find the facts in aspects of human rights law… we are not trying to point fingers or blame any parties.” Hence, the mission is operating neutrally, and the experts whom the Council chose are supposed to be free of bias.
The experts all have profound legal backgrounds. Judge Karl T. Hudson-Phillips, served as a judge on the International Criminal Court from 2003 to 2007. He was attorney general and minister of legal affairs of Trinidad and Tobago between 1969 and 1973.
Sir Desmond de Silva is a lawyer with extensive experience in human rights, war crimes, terrorism, business crime, espionage trials and sports law. Judge Karl and Sir Desmond have both been appointed Queen’s Counsel (QC).
Mary Shanthi Dairiam (Malaysia) was a member of the Committee on the Elimination if Discrimination against Women from 2005 to 2008. She is now serving on the Gender Equality Task Force of the United Nations Development Program.
The experts will arrive in Geneva this weekend and they will meet for the 15th session of the mission.
On August 2nd, 2010, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed a group of four experts to investigate the deadly raid on the Gaza aid flotilla. The mission sponsored by the Human Rights Council is an addition to that investigation. “Diplomatic collaboration is not an issue… I have informed the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s office about this mission.” Ambassador Sihasak said.
The Israeli authorities have expressed a cooperative attitude to this group. On contrary, Israeli authorities have not agreed to be cooperative with Human Rights Council. Ambassador Sihasak was asked if he is insulted by this. He responded: “It is up to the Israeli government. We are hoping for their cooperation… being cooperative is also for their own good.
“Our mission is on a different track from that of the panel appointed by the UN Secretary General. We are more focused on violations of humanitarian issues and international and human rights law while the group in United Nations in New York will investigate in a broader area. We are also more down to the ground: we will send staff to the area to investigate reports and make conclusions based on that.” ♦