Saturday, 20 December 2008

European Parliamentarians call upon the Red Cross on behalf of Gilad Shalit

Source: European Friends of Israel

"Today we simultaneously mark the 900th day since Gilad’s abduction and the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Although the latter is being internationally commemorated, rightfully so, European Friends of Israel have determined not to neglect Gilad, whose health and whereabouts have remained concealed for over 900 hundred days, in total negation of his basic Human Rights.

Thus, in almost all of the EU-27 countries, Parliamentarians friends of Israel have contacted local Red Cross representatives, the international and impartial guarantor of human rights, to request that more action is taken to secure Gilad’s human rights, such as his visitation rights and the right to proper medical treatment, which have been continuously denied.

EFI wants to keep awakening the conscience of the world, to display to Gilad’s family that Europe has not abandoned their son, and to determine what more can be done.

EFI thanks all dedication of the Parliamentarians to this cause. We see this initiative as a symbol, both of that aspiration and of the very purpose of EFI to achieve more together than we can do alone."
João Rebelo, Chair of the Portugal-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group, reported to the EFI on his meeting with the representative of the Portuguese Red Cross, Luís Barbosa. The meeting took place in the Assembly of the Republic, São Bento Palace, on 12 December 2008. Mr Barbosa was made:

"aware of the presence of the Portugal-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group in the EFI Policy Conference, that took place in Paris in November 2008, in which Gilad Shalit’s father called upon the European Union and the international community to pressure the Hamas movement, in order to the ICRC be allowed to visit Gilad Shalit. Afterwards, the President of the Portuguese Red Cross submitted some elements on this matter, such as:

- The ICRC has to maintain itself very discreet on this matter, since they cannot speak too much about this matter, given the need to keep their neutral statute;

- The ICRC has made continuous attempts to approach Gilad Shalit, but so far has been unsuccessfull;

- The Carter Center informed ICRC that Gilad Shalit is alive;

- The ICRC stresses that the right to visit is a crucial element of the international humanitarian law;

- The ICRC will release an announcement, this month possibly, on the process of attempt to approach Gilad Shalit. However, there are details in this process that may not be disseminated, under penalty of affecting the ICRC neutrality;

- Reciprocity has not occurred in this process, considering that visits to Palestinian prisoners in Israel have been possible, while the same does not occur with Gilad Shalit, in Gaza Strip;

- This process involves elements, as possible terms of exchange (about 3000 Palestinian prisoners for Gilad Shalit), which can turn into a serious difficulty to solve this case;

- The ICRC regulates its conduct through the maximum prudence and unquestionable neutrality, considering that a human life is in danger, bearing in mind the fundamental role this institution played recently in Colombia, Afghanistan and Myanmar."

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