The Australian Human Rights Commission reiterates our calls for:
- human rights to be respected for Palestinians and Israelis;
- the need to uphold international humanitarian and human rights law; and
- the rights to protest, freedom of assembly and association.
Following the interim ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 26 January, we join calls for:
- urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza;
- a sustainable ceasefire on human rights and humanitarian grounds;
- the return of all civilian hostages; and
- the resumption of diplomatic efforts towards a lasting peace and a two-state solution that addresses the root causes of violence.
The Australian Human Rights Commission shares the concerns of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) around the globe at the appalling suffering and loss of life and the urgent and deteriorating humanitarian circumstances following the reported deaths of almost 1,200 people in Israel and over 25,000 Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank since 7 October 2023.
The Commission acknowledges the interim ruling of the ICJ in favour of provisional measures to protect the rights of Palestinians in Gaza. Without ruling on whether any violations of Israel’s obligations under the Genocide Convention have occurred, the ICJ considered that the “catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is at serious risk of deteriorating further”. The ICJ also ordered that Israel ensure that its military forces do not commit any of the acts that fall within the scope of the Genocide Convention.
Commission President, Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM FAAL, said: “We urge the Australian Government to work with all parties to enforce the ICJ order for provisional measures. We further urge organisations and persons in positions of power to reflect on how their language and actions may exacerbate tensions within the Australian community.”
In its domestic mandate as Australia’s NHRI, the Commission will continue its work to address the impact of the current crisis on communities in Australia. Many communities are directly affected, with loved ones among the dead, missing, injured and displaced.
The Commission is extremely concerned about reports of rising incidents of anti-Semitism, neo-Nazi rallies, Islamophobia, anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian racism. We will continue to support and engage with all communities in our society for an Australia free from racial hatred, discrimination, and unlawful harassment.
The Commission stands with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, and other NHRIs around the globe and supports the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions’ (GANHRI) statement which calls on “all parties involved to immediately end the violations of international law, to ensure the full protection of all civilians, and to respect all principles under international law at all times, including the rules of distinction, precaution, legality, and proportionality”.
The Commission further supports GANHRI’s call for the unconditional release of all civilian hostages, demanding their safety, wellbeing and humane treatment in compliance with international law, a call repeated by the ICJ in its recent judgment.
As High Commissioner Türk has stated, “International humanitarian law is crystal clear. The protection of civilians is paramount, and any actions that contravene this will be scrutinised closely, with grave breaches risking exposure to liability for war crimes and other atrocity crimes”.
“There can be no double standards when we speak about human rights. The rights of one group of people are not higher than that of the other. The rules apply equally to everyone.”
We urge the international community and global leaders, including the Australian Government, to use whatever diplomatic means available to end the violations of international law, to secure a ceasefire and to alleviate the suffering of innocent civilians.
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