TORONTO, October 1, 2014 – Canadian lawyer Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based monitoring group UN Watch, will be in Toronto tomorrow, Thursday, October 2nd, and available for interviews, as the group will release a 30-page legal brief asserting that Canadian law professor William Schabas has breached his duty of impartiality as head of the UN Human Rights Council inquiry on Gaza, and demanding that he step down on account of his “numerous inflammatory and prejudicial prior statements, including his call to indict Israel’s prime minister as his ‘favorite’ defendant, that give rise to the appearance of bias.”
UN Watch’s petition to the UN requesting Schabas to recuse himself, a draft of which Neuer personally presented to Schabas at a private meeting that took place two weeks ago in Geneva, follows similar calls made recently by law professors and human rights activists in the U.S., Canada, France and the UK.
Last week in Paris, Human Rights Watch founding director Aryeh Neier called for Schabas to step down. In the Times of London, former British judge Lord David Pannick wrote that Schabas’ protestations of impartiality were not helpful. “The appearance of bias is sufficient to disqualify a person,” wrote Pannick. “There is no need to show actual bias.”
The relevant prejudicial statements by Prof. Schabas include:
• “[P]rima facie, there is evidence of disproportionality in the response that Israel is undertaking in order to protect itself.” (Schabas speaking about the very operation that is now before him, BBC, 17 July 2014)
• “Actually, my favorite would be Netanyahu within the dock of the International Criminal Court,” Schabas declared before an advocacy group’s mock trial of Israel in 2012.
• In a law journal article, Schabas wrote that Netanyahu could be considered “the single individual most likely to threaten the survival of Israel.”
• Schabas called for “going after” Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres in the ICC, saying, “Why are we going after the president of Sudan for Darfur and not the president of Israel for Gaza?”