GENEVA - The United Nations voiced concern on Tuesday that some of the Palestinian detainees released in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit may have not have been given any choice on where to go, which could constitute an illegal forced transfer.
The office of Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, welcomed the release but cited reports that some of the Palestinian prisoners from the West Bank may be released to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip or abroad.
Under international humanitarian law, it is illegal to forcibly transfer war detainees or deport them to another country against their will.
"It was with a sense of great relief that we have received news of the agreement to exchange prisoners. We do however have concerns regarding reports that hundreds of Palestinian prisoners from the West Bank may be released to the Gaza Strip or abroad," Pillay's spokesman Rupert Colville told Reuters in response to a query.
"If in some cases this has been without the free and informed consent of the concerned individuals, this may constitute forced transfer or deportation under international law," he added. "We are not sure to what extent they consented to this."