Quebec, Canada, who have been involved in the construction, marketing and selling of residential units in the illegal Jewish-Israeli settlement of Modi’in Illit, built on the land of the West Bank village of Bil’in, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).
The lawsuit in Canada alleges that the Canadian companies’ construction activities violate Article 49 (6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Canadian law. Those laws prohibit an occupying power from transferring its own civilians into occupied territory. The Superior Court of Quebec declined jurisdiction to hear the case because it was determined that the Israeli High Court of Justice was a more appropriate court for the case.
Bil‘in appealed that decision to the Quebec Court of Appeal, claiming that the issue of the illegality of settlements under Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention is a non-justiciable issue in any Israeli court, based on long-standing jurisprudence of the Israeli High Court of Justice. The appeal was dismissed in August 2010 on the grounds of not wanting to interfere with the discretion of the lower court to dismiss the case where that court determined that the Israeli court was better suited to hear it.
Bil’in’s recent application before the Supreme Court of Canada asks for permission for a second appeal of its case to the highest court of Canada and addresses the issue of the appropriate court in the hope of obtaining a ruling on the merits of the case. In its application, Bil‘in alleges that the lower court in Québec committed serious legal errors in declining jurisdiction in favour of an Israeli court that did not have jurisdiction, but even if it did, would not have the legal jurisprudence to apply the Fourth Geneva Convention. Bil‘in also submitted that it is an error in law to send the case to a court in the country alleged to have engaged the services of the very corporations that Bil‘in claims have aided, abetted and assisted in the commission of war crimes.
Al-Haq will continue to keep you informed of any further development in the case. Please do not hesitate to contact [email protected] should you have any questions, comments or require any further information about the case.
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