Palestinian Village Files Complaint to United Nations against Canada
“Enforce the law on corporations constructing settlements on our land”
(Bil’in, Palestine) Today, as the United Nations Human Rights Council is set to vote on a resolution calling for UN member states to ensure that their corporations do not conduct activities related to the Israeli settlement enterprise, the Palestinian village of Bil’in announces that it has lodged an individual complaint against Canada to the UN Human Rights Committee for its failure to prevent two Canadian corporations from engaging in human rights violations related to settlement construction in Palestine.
The Bil’in Village Council, along with 11 village residents, lodged the complaint under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and allege that Canada failed to prevent human rights violations that were aided and abetted by two Canadian corporations, Greenpark International, Inc. and Greenmount International, Inc., for building Israeli settlements in occupied territory.
“We have spent years trying to protect our land from Israel and now we are forced to battle other countries and their companies too,” said Mohammed Khatib, village representative and Head of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee. “We hope the UN will give us the justice that we have not been able to get from either Israel or Canada.”
The illegal settlement of Modi’in Illit sits in part on confiscated Bil’in land. Customary international law prohibits Israel from transferring its civilians into the occupied State of Palestine and the erection of Israeli settlements in Palestine constitutes a violation of international law and may amount to a war crime. Both Canadian corporations are complicit in directly aiding and abetting this violation by constructing, marketing, and selling housing units for the East Mattityahu neighborhood of the Modi’in Illit settlement.
In 2008, the Bil’in complainants filed a lawsuit in Montreal, Canada against the two Quebec-registered companies, claiming violations of international and Canadian law pertaining to aiding and abetting the commission of a war crime. Both the trial and appellate courts refused to hear the case on the merits, claiming that the proper forum for the case is the Israeli courts. Given that the Canadian Supreme Court refused to review the Bil’in lawsuit, Canada has failed to provide an effective judicial remedy to the residents of Bil’in for violations of their human rights.
“The legal systems in both Israel and Canada have failed the people of Bil’in” said Bret Thiele, an attorney representing Bil’in village in their case. “A strong decision in favour of their case by the UN Committee will ensure some accountability and deter other companies from engaging in illegal practices in occupied Palestine.”
Today, as the independent fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements presents its report to the Human Rights Council, the Bil’in Village Council calls on another UN body, the Human Rights Committee, to exercise its authority and uphold the universality of human rights by accepting Bil’in’s complaint and compelling Canada to hold its corporations accountable for human rights violations committed outside of its borders.
*Bil’in village representative in Palestine, Mohammad Khatib (+972 59 891 4541+972 59 891 4541), Attorney in the United States, Bret Thiele (Bret@globalinitiative-escr.org +1 218 269 0214), and Attorneys in Israel Michael Sfard and Emily Schaeffer (firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; +972 3 620 6947), are available for interviews regarding the case.
The Individual Complaint can be found HERE.
The UN Fact Finding Mission Report can be found HERE.