(photo credit: Reuters)
Santiago Canton of Argentina was appointed on Thursday to head the UN Human Rights Council’s commission of inquiry into possible Israeli war crimes, in response to the Hamas-led Great March of Return along Gaza’s border that began March 30.
Canton replaces US legal expert Michael Crane, who was appointed to the post on July 25 and resigned from the position on August 23 for unspecified personal reasons.
Canton is the secretary of human rights for the Province of Buenos Aires. He has a long record of international human rights work dating back to his time as the political assistant to former US president Jimmy Carter on issues relating to Latin American development.
Canton has served as the director of RFK Partners for Human Rights at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights and as the executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
He holds a law degree from the University of Buenos Aires and has a master’s degree in international law from American University Washington College of Law.
UNHRC President Ambassador Vojislav Šuc announced Canton’s appointment on Thursday. The other two legal experts on the investigatory panel are Sara Hossain of Bangladesh and Kaari Betty Murungi of Kenya.
At issue is the 182 Palestinian deaths connected to the Great March of Return, which led to violent riots along Israel’s border with Gaza, including infiltration attempts into Israel. Participants in the event have launched incendiary devices into Israel burning thousands of hectares of fields in the South. They have shot at and thrown stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers along the border. Palestinians have portrayed those who were killed as peaceful protesters.
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called for the probe in May, with a focus on Gaza events, but also tasked it with taking a broader look at events in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in that time period.
It mandated the investigatory commission “to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests that began on 30 March 2018.”
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