By Palestine Chronicle Staff
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights in the Gaza Strip has published the account of six trainee lawyers who were denied permits to participate in an International Forum in South Africa.
“We cannot see fellow lawyers in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, nor in the rest of the world. We are desperately hoping to leave Gaza for the conference; it would be hard to experience another disappointment. But either way, we remain hopeful and will continue fighting for justice by defending the real victims of the closure,” Maram Shatat, a trainee lawyer said.
Human rights workers, such as other Palestinians, are denied the basic human right to travel, or freedom of movement. The last few months have seen a sharp decline in the number of permits given to Palestinians travelling via the Israeli-controlled Eretz crossing.
“It is of utmost importance for us to gather with other advocates of international humanitarian law in the Gaza Strip and to learn how to build legal cases with their collaboration. Of the 3000 lawyers in the Gaza Strip, very few have the ability to build strong cases based on international humanitarian law and to use investigation mechanisms relevant to advocate in front of the International Criminal Court (ICC). I am lucky to be part of this specialized group of lawyers”, trainee lawyer at PCHR, Wade Al-Arabed, explained.
“We are the ones who will take action and advocate for universal jurisdiction. This aspect is missing in our university education, but PCHR is contributing greatly by offering this to us,” trainee lawyer, Mahmoud Ahmad, added.
— PCHR (@pchrgaza) April 10, 2017
“Attending the conference is not only important from an educational perspective, but for us it is means breaking the Israeli siege on Gaza,” trainee lawyer, Adel Mhana stressed.
PCHR, together with other Palestinian human rights organizations, has thus far delivered four legal submissions to the International Criminal Court on behalf of the Gaza victims to proceed with the prosecution of Israeli war criminals for all crimes committed. The first two submissions dealt with the Israeli offensive of 2014 and the Black Friday Massacre in Rafah respectively, while the latest submission of November 2016 addresses the ongoing illegal closure imposed on the Gaza Strip.
“We want the outside world to grasp what we have experienced both as lawyers and human beings through three wars. Not only were our cases impacted by the lack of freedom of movement, but every single one of us is denied this basic right. We are lawyers dealing with international courts, especially the ICC, but we are denied the right to move, get expertise from abroad and to actually see the ICC,” the trainee lawyers stressed.