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Lawyers, activists petition AU to overturn Israel’s observer status

September 16, 2021 at 6:27 pm

The logo of the African Union (AU) is seen at the entrance of the AU headquarters on 13 March, 2019, in Addis Ababa [Ludovic MARIN/POOL/AFP/Getty]

A group of international lawyers, researchers and activists today filed a complaint with the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights seeking the revocation of Israel’s observer status at the African Union (AU), Anadolu Agency reports.

“This complaint is brought against the decision of the African Union taken at the end of July 2021 granting observer status to the State of Israel,” read a 200-page document petitioning the AU Commission’s decision.

“The human rights violations committed by Israel are contrary to the spirit and purport of the Charter of the African Union, particularly relating to issues of self-determination and decolonization as Israel continues to illegally occupy Palestine in violation of its international obligations and multiple UN resolutions,” the document said.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC), a block of 16 countries, last month condemned the African Union Commission’s decision to grant Israel observer status at the continent’s representative body of 54 nations.

Iqbal Jassat, an executive Member of the Johannesburg-based think tank Media Review Network (MRN), which is the second complainant in the matter, told Anadolu Agency they were collaborating with US attorney Stanley Cohen together with South African lawyers Nadeem Mahomed and Shabnam Mayet to have the AU reverse its decision.

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He said they want the AU to overturn the decision based on the ground of “war crimes, crimes against humanity and apartheid,” including declarations from victims of the most recent attacks on Gaza by Israel.

“Whilst we do not seek justice from the African Union on the issue of war crimes against Palestine by Israel, we seek that Israel not be permitted to enjoy freedoms given to it by the African Union in granting it observer status,” the statement said.

The Palestine Solidarity Alliance, (PSA) a voluntary body based in Johannesburg South Africa which advocates for Palestinian freedom is the first complaint in the matter.

“We, as South Africans living in a member state of the AU, deem it our duty to combat and object to the African Union’s decision in granting Israel observer status,” said Naazim Adam of the PSA.

Other complainants in the matter are from Belgium, the US, Belfast, and Ireland.