oPt

OPT: Al Mezan and the Palestinian Bar Association conclude specialized lawyers training on IHL in Gaza

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On Thursday 17 December 2009, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights and the Palestinian Bar Association concluded a training course on the international humanitarian law (IHL), litigation and war crimes. Twenty-eight lawyers participated in the training course. The course aimed at enhancing lawyers' skills and knowledge in IHL, particularly in relation to protection from and litigation of war crimes. According to an agreement between Al Mezan and the Bar Association, the training is to be considered part of the lawyers' training, which they must have in the course of their training to obtain practice license.

At the end of the course, Al Mezan's director, Mr. Issam Younis, and the vice chairman of the Palestinian Bar Association, Mr. Salama Bseeso, led the graduation ceremony and handed the participants their certificates at the Commodore Gaza Hotel in Gaza City.

The training provided course 28 hours over the period of five days. The participants were introduced to a historical and legal framework of IHL and international human rights law (IHRL); the content of IHL; protected groups under IHL; enforcement mechanisms of IHL; the responsibilities of an occupying power towards the population of an occupied territory; and the legal status of the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT); including the Gaza Strip.

In addition, the course introduced the participants to international criminal law, mechanisms for prosecuting war crimes, as well as monitoring and documentation mechanisms - an area of increasing significance to legal and human rights professionals in the context of the Gaza Strip.

A team of trainers and experts from Al Mezan Centre and Palestinian universities and civil society delivered the training.

This course constitutes a component of the project entitled 'Promotion of IHL and ESCR by Education in Gaza,' implemented by Al Mezan Centre with support from Diakonia. The project aims to raise awareness of IHL and economic and social rights in the Palestinian community in Gaza. It also seeks to build the capacity of lawyers and other societal groups to make use of IHL in their legal and protection work

At the end of the course, Mr. Younis and Mr. Bseeso emphasized on the importance of cooperation between the human rights organizations and the Palestinian Bar Association to support the skills of Palestinian lawyers and to enable them to take an effective part in defending human rights; especially Gaza lives under very deteriorated human rights conditions due to the conflict and the siege Israel imposes on it.

Mr. Bseeso thanked Al Mezan for its continuous cooperation with the Palestinian Bar Association to develop and build the capacity of lawyers. He also said that lawyers need to know more about IHL to confront the flagrant violations of IHL committed by the Israeli occupation forces. Mr. Bseeso emphasized on the importance of including this course as integral part of the training scheme of trainee lawyers to obtain their licenses from the Bar.

Mr. Younis thanked the Palestinian Bar Association and emphasized on the continuous cooperation between them to build the capacity of Palestinian lawyers in the Gaza Strip.

From their part, participants emphasized the importance of using all the available capacities to defend the Palestinian victims who suffered violations of IHL and human rights in the OPT. They called for international intervention to ensure respect to international law; particularly by the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, requesting that they uphold their legal and moral obligations to ensure Israel's compliance to respecting the rules of IHL, and to provide international protection for the Palestinian people; including throughout holding violators of IHL accountable for crimes.

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Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights
5/102-1 Al Mena, Omar El-Mukhtar Street,
Western Rimal, Gaza City, The Gaza Strip,
P.O. Box. 5270,
Telefax: 2820447, 2820442