27 March 2012
General Assembly
GA/PAL/1226

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Background Release


United Nations International Meeting on Question of Palestine to Consider

 

Implications of Palestinian Political Prisoners, in Geneva, 3-4 April

 


The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People will convene the United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Palestine on 3 and 4 April at the United Nations Office at Geneva.  The theme of the Meeting is “The question of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons and detention facilities:  legal and political implications”.


The Meeting follows the event held in March 2011 at the United Nations Office at Vienna on the same topic and aims at further raising awareness of the situation of Palestinian political prisoners and mobilizing the determination of the international community to bring this issue to a solution, namely their speedy release and reintegration into the Palestinian society.  The Meeting, among other things, will discuss legal and humanitarian aspects of the arrests and detentions of Palestinians by the occupying Power, and consider the status of Palestinian prisoners in international law.  The Meeting will also consider the issue of Palestinian political prisoners in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian political process and discuss ways of strengthening the role of the wider international community, as well as non-governmental actors in promoting a solution.


The Meeting is being organized in keeping with General Assembly resolutions 66/14 and 66/15 of 30 November 2011.  Invited to the Meeting will be representatives of United Nations Members and Observers, other intergovernmental organizations, United Nations system entities, members of the academic community and representatives of civil society organizations, as well as the media.


The opening session will take place on Tuesday, 3 April, at 10:30 a.m. in Conference Room XVI of the Assembly Building of the Palais des Nations.  Statements are expected to be made by Maxwell Gaylard, Deputy United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, on behalf of the United Nations Secretary-General; Abdou Salam Diallo, Chairman of the Committee; and Issa Qaraqe, Palestinian Minister for Prisoners’ Affairs as the representative of Palestine.  Minister Qaraqe will also deliver the keynote presentation later in the morning session.  The opening session will be followed by plenary sessions during which experts will make presentations on specific issues.  Each plenary will have a discussion period.  The official languages of the Meeting will be Arabic, English and French.  Documentation will be available, to the extent possible, in these three languages.


Plenary I, entitled “The current situation of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails and detention facilities — legal and humanitarian aspects”, will begin in the afternoon of Tuesday, 3 April, at 3 p.m.  The session will provide insight into the situation of imprisoned members of vulnerable groups, such as women, minors and sick persons, and the urgency of their protection; the need for international action regarding the illegal incarceration of parliamentarians; and the issue of re-integration of the Palestinian prisoners released in 2011.  Speakers include Khaled Quzmar, Legal Consultant at Defence for Children International; Ahmed Shreem, Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council; Jan Borgen, Deputy Secretary-General of the International Commission of Jurists; Mohammad Albatta, Director-General of the Rehabilitation Programme at the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs; and Lama Odeh Sharif, Psycho-Social Supervisor of the Rehabilitation Programme at the Young Men’s Christian Association.


Plenary II, entitled “The legal status of Palestinian political prisoners in international law”, will start in the morning of Wednesday, 4 April, at 10 a.m.  During the session, experts and participants will discuss the status of “prisoner of war” in international law and its application to Palestinian political prisoners; the issue of political prisoners at the International Court of Justice, including past precedents and options for the case of Palestinian prisoners; United Nations procedures and mechanisms to address the issue of political prisoners:  the General Assembly, Human Rights Council and treaty bodies; and available legal mechanisms to ensure compliance with international humanitarian and human rights laws.  Speakers include John Dugard, Professor of International Law; Yaser Amouri, Assistant Professor of International Law at Birzeit University in the West Bank; Nasser Al Ryyes, Legal Adviser at Al-Haq; Shawqi Al Issa, Director of the Ensan Center for Democracy and Human Rights; and Jawad Ammawi, General Director of the Legal Unit at the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs.


Plenary III on Wednesday afternoon, 4 April, at 3 p.m., entitled “The issue of Palestinian political prisoners and the Israeli-Palestinian political process”, will look at the question of Palestinian political prisoners as a permanent status issue, political prisoners in peace processes and peace agreements, the example of Namibia and South Africa, and the role of civil society in raising awareness about the issue and promoting action towards the release of all Palestinian political prisoners.  Speakers include Qadura Fares, Chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners Society; Mutaz M. Qafisheh, Professor of International Law at Hebron University in Hebron; Hanif Vally, human rights lawyer and Deputy Director of the Foundation for Human Rights in Johannesburg; and Mahmoud Hassan, Director of the Legal Unit at Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association.


The closing session of the Meeting will take place on Wednesday, 4 April, at 5:30 p.m.  The report of the Meeting and the Chair’s Summary will be issued as a publication of the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat.


A press conference is scheduled for Tuesday, 3 April at 12:30 p.m. in Room III of the Assembly Building.  Registered media representatives will also have the opportunity to arrange individual interviews with members of the Committee’s delegation and participating speakers.


Participants are requested to register with the Secretariat of the Palais des Nations either at its office or prior to entering the conference room.  The main Secretariat is located in office A.531 on the fifth floor of the Assembly Building.  For more information, please contact the Secretariat in Geneva at tel.:  +41 22 917 6804 or +41 22 917 6805; e-mail:  dpr-meeting@un.org; or fax:  +41 22 917 0445.


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For information media • not an official record