On 13 May 2021, Al-Haq sent a written submission to the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence, Mr. Fabian Salvioli, pursuant to a call for input to inform his October 2021 report on transitional justice measures and the legacy of human rights violations in colonial contexts.
The Rapporteur provided a questionnaire, which requires specific examples regarding the design and implementation of measures in the field of truth, justice, reparation, memorialization and guarantees of non-recurrence to address gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in colonial contexts.
In its written submission, Al-Haq answered the questions posed regarding accountability, truth, reparations and memorialisation mechanisms in Palestine. Acknowledging that transition to justice in Palestine is a far distant reality, and that the Israeli settler-colonial regime is not a legacy of the past but an ongoing settler-colonial structure, Al-Haq highlighted the importance of ensuring the transitional justice narrative on Palestine is not grounded on the hegemonic narrative, which neglects both the historical and ongoing nature of the Israeli settler-colonial regime.
On the first question on accountability mechanisms, Al-Haq highlighted with examples how Israel’s justice system, has proved to be a driving force in the continued protection and entrenchment of the pervasive impunity enjoyed by Israeli authorities. Moreover, Al-Haq outlined how the international community have failed to take effective measures to cooperate to bring the illegal situation imposed upon the Palestinian people to an end. The submission further highlighted how prosecution at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and through the application of universal jurisdiction may be the last resort for justice for Palestinians.
On the second question on truth mechanisms, Al-Haq outlined initiatives to counter the hegemonic narrative that portrays the situation in Palestine as the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, including by presenting Palestinian grassroot initiatives and oral history projects, which have led their own way to reclaim a narrative, that explain how Israel is both a historical and ongoing settler-colonial regime.
On the third question on mechanisms of reparations, Al-Haq highlighted Israel’s persistent denial of Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons their right of return to their homes, and property, restitution, compensation and rehabilitation. Al-Haq highlighted how even 73 years on from the Nakba, both the internationally mandated bodies and the international community continue to fail to take any measures to adequately address this ongoing Nakba by the provision of just and durable solutions as stipulated by international law.
On mechanisms of memorialization, the submission gave the example of the massacre of Kafr Qasim of 1956, when Israeli border police shot 48 Palestinian citizens of Israel, including 23 children, as they returned to their homes from work, unknowingly “violating” a new military curfew. The submission highlighted how the Israeli government immensely pressured the people of Kafr Qasim to mark the massacre's first anniversary, in an undercover legal manoeuvring that coerced the families into accepting a privately arranged damages settlement, as well as to attend a “reconciliation ceremony”, to conclude the “affair”.
The submission highlighted how the massacre sparked Palestinian grassroots memorial activity and the ongoing Israeli measures to prevent the popular memorialisation of the massacre and its attempts to impose its own memory on Palestinians, transformed it into a central site of resistance against Israel’s settler-colonial regime.
In conclusion, the submission urged the Special Rapporteur to:
- Recognise and address Israel’s settler-colonial and apartheid regime in his report.
- Call on the UN and its Members States to enable and facilitate the return of Palestinian refugees to their original homes, and ensure restitution of their property, including through the reactivation of the UN Conciliation Commission for Palestine.
- Publicly call for international justice and accountability for Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity, including its apartheid regime.
- Call on the UN and its Members States to reconstitute the UN Special Committee against Apartheid and the UN Centre against Apartheid as critical steps towards ending Israel’s institutionalized impunity and apartheid regime.
- Urge the UN Human Rights Council to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the historical injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people, to unpack the historical and ongoing Israeli settler-colonial regime in Palestine.
To read the full submission, click here.