Universiteit Leiden

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In war crimes, commanders do not have legal immunity

In her capacity as a lawyer and expert in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, Professor Helen Duffy is filing a lawsuit against the Dutch State. Leiden University’s weekly newspaper Mare reports that through her role, Duffy is assisting a Palestinian Dutchman whose family was killed in an Israeli attack in 2014.

Client Ziada initiated civil proceedings against former commanders Benny Gantz and Amir Eshel in the Dutch courts. Refuting the ruling that commanders have legal immunity in civil proceedings in foreign courts, Duffy says, 'Individuals cannot have immunity in war crimes cases, and so we’re going to the European Court of Human Rights to file a case against the Dutch courts'.

Duffy has, of course, noticed that the Netherlands has so far abstained from voting on a temporary ceasefire in Gaza. And so the Dutch court's decision in this case should not be influenced by political considerations. The court is obliged to uphold laws and protect access to justice, and Duffy argues that politics should play no part in that.

In controversial issues such as this, academics also have a duty towards students to engage with each other, says Duffy. This issue is especially important given the current situation in Gaza, where the incessant violation of international human rights must be stopped. 'The constant cycle of impunity for international human rights violations in Gaza must be broken.'

More information

Read the full article in Mare.

Photo: Jordy Meow via Unsplash

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