BHRC has received support and criticism for the letter that it wrote to the UK Foreign Secretary on Thursday.1 This response is intended to provide clarity on issues raised following its publication.
BHRC is a separate organisation from the Bar Council and is not part of the Bar Council’s committee structure.2 Whilst BHRC operates independently, it receives financial support from the Bar Council for one of its members of staff and for its trial observation project.
BHRC works to promote the protection of human rights around the world through the rule of law and an international law framework. As is clear from our website, we are engaged in a wide range of work in many parts of the world.
BHRC condemns all violence and violations of international law in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory by all parties. This includes violations by Hamas. For the avoidance of doubt, BHRC condemns unequivocally the indiscriminate rocket fire by Palestinian armed groups into Israel. BHRC’s letter explicitly called for the UK Government to support the International Criminal Court’s independent investigation into alleged war crimes by both the Israeli Government and Palestinian armed groups. BHRC wrote to the UK Foreign Secretary to request the UK Government use its influence to ensure compliance with international law through the diplomatic channels. The UK is a friend and ally of Israel, whom it engages at State level.
We deplore the mounting death toll, with Israeli and Palestinian civilians being killed or wounded, including children. BHRC supports the call by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights3 this weekend for urgent de-escalation of the alarming violence. BHRC further supports her call for both sides to strictly respect their obligations under international law, including in relation to the firing of rockets by Palestinian armed groups into Israel, and the Israeli airstrikes and shelling into Gaza.
Separately, BHRC supports freedom of expression, including by opponents or supporters of BHRC’s letter. BHRC condemns all and any abuse or attacks, including antisemitism or Islamophobia.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
- BHRC is concerned with defending the rule of law and internationally recognised legal standards relating to human rights and the right to a fair trial. The Bar Human Rights Committee was founded in 1991, by the former Chairman of the Bar Council of England and Wales, Anthony Scrivener QC. Its structure was first approved by the Bar Council’s subsequent Chairman, Gareth Williams QC (the late Lord Williams of Mostyn). For further information, please see our website https://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/about/.