McGowan Davis: Our report on the Cast Lead probes stands

Judge who led follow-up probe to Goldstone, says South African jurist's recent statements have no impact on her work.

April 7, 2011 05:20
2 minute read.
UNHRC headquarters in Geneva

UNHRC headquarters 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Judge Mary McGowan Davis said Wednesday that her United Nations report on Israeli military action in Gaza has not been influenced by Judge Richard Goldstone’s recent statements retracting a key element of his work on the subject.

McGowan Davis spoke to The Jerusalem Post by telephone from Paris, expressing concern that Goldstone’s opinion piece in Friday’s Washington Post on his Gaza report, would have bearing on her own work.

“Our work was completely separate from his work,” said McGowan Davis. “My feeling is [that Goldstone’s statements] does not have any impact [on our work],” she said.

Goldstone headed a four-member fact finding mission that investigated Israeli military actions in Gaza in December 2008 and 2009.

His report, which he submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2009, accused Israel of intentionally targeting innocent civilians, and recommended that the UN Security Council consider sending the matter to the International Criminal Court.

On Friday, however, Goldstone retracted the accusation.

McGowan Davis said that the follow- up report, which she and Swedish Judge Lennart Aspergen submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council last month was vastly different from Goldstone’s.

It did not investigate Israeli military action in Gaza, she said, even though she did hold hearings with victims of Israeli and Palestinian violence.

“Our mandate was to take his report as given and start from there,” said McGowan Davis.

Her panel was not a fact-finding mission, she said. Its mandate was to assess and evaluate Israeli and Palestinian investigation into human rights abuses that occurred at that time.

Her report, she said, judged the investigatory process and not the actual actions that occurred.

“We stand by that report,” she said.

Her panel found that Israel had investigated over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza, but that few had led to disciplinary action. Separately, the report found that Israel had launched 14 investigations into human rights violations in the West Bank, of which two led to criminal charges.

It lauded the work of the Turkel Commission, even though it dealt with the flotilla raid in May 2010, and not Operation Cast Lead, saying that it proved Israel could investigate high-level decision making.

Still, her panel noted that as of last month, Israel had not opened investigations into the actions of those who designed, planned and oversaw Operation Cast Lead.

The committee also expressed reservations about the promptness of the investigations and their transparency.

It concluded that Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas all needed to do more work to investigate human rights abuses.

The report was submitted to the UNHRC last month. In response to the report, the council passed a resolution that asked the General Assembly to endorse the Goldstone Report for a second time and to pass it on to the UN Security Council so that it could consider referring the situation of the “occupied Palestinian territories” to the International Criminal Court.

McGowan Davis said she had no comment on the resolution.

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