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UN rights commissioner calls for independent inquiry into Qana bombing

[JURIST] United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official profile] on Monday "strongly condemned" the weekend Israeli bombing of the Lebanese village of Qana [JURIST report] that resulted in the deaths of some 60 civilians - including 37 children - and said that an independent investigation is necessary "in order to establish facts and conduct an impartial legal analysis of the persistent allegations of violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law during this conflict." In a statement [text], Arbour said "international expertise" was necessary to evaluate the situation despite Israel's expressed intent to investigate directly. She also emphasized that while effective advance warning of attacks possibly affecting the civilian population had to be given, that legal obligation did not absolve the parties to the conflict of their other obligations under international law regarding the protection of civilians, and noted that in practical terms

Many people are simply unable to leave southern Lebanon because they have no transport, because roads have been destroyed, because they are ill or elderly, because they must care for others who are physically unable to make the journey, or because they simply have no where else to go. Many thousands of civilians will still be in Southern Lebanon after [Israel's announced 48-hour] suspension of air strikes is ended.
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council [official website] delayed a meeting originally scheduled for Monday afternoon to discuss the organization of a new peacekeeping mission for Lebanon. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [official profile] had ordered the meeting, but a UN official speaking on the condition of anonymity said the postponement was made until "political clarity" on the Middle East conflict [JURIST news archive] was gained. Reuters has more. The UN News Centre has additional coverage.

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