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10 Jul 2008

Green Park Intl. lawsuit (re Bil’in villagers' land grabbing)

Status: CLOSED

Date lawsuit was filed
10 Jul 2008
Völkische und ethnische Gruppen
Ort der Einreichung: Kanada
Ort des Vorfalls: Palästina
Art des Rechtsstreits: Transnational




In 2008, a Palestinian village sued construction companies Green Park International and Green Mount International in Canada. The complainants alleged that the companies had assisted Israel in breaching Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that it is illegal for an occupying state to “transfer parts of its own civilian population onto the territory it occupies”. In September 2009, the Supreme Court of Québec declined jurisdiction on the basis that the Israeli judicial system was in a better position to decide on the case.

Factual Background

Construction companies Green Park International and Green Mount International built 30 buildings with 250 apartments on land that was part of a Palestinian village until Israel seized the West Bank from Jordanian control in the Six-Day War in 1967.

Prior to filing a complaint before the Superior Court in Québec, representatives from the Palestinian village of Bil'in successfully brought proceedings before the Israeli Supreme Court against the Israeli government and the Israeli Defence Forces. The Israeli government was ordered to re-route the West Bank barrier away from Bil'in, thus returning some of the land. However, the barrier was not moved.

Legal Argument

The complainants alleged that the companies were engaged in constructing residential buildings intended for Israeli civilians, in furtherance of an Israeli state policy of inducing its civilian population to settle in occupied territory with the ultimate objective of facilitating the eventual assimilation of these lands into its own territory. As the West Bank is not part of Israel but has been under Israeli military occupation since 1967, it falls within the purview of the Geneva Conventions, which sets out the law on military occupation. Under Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, it is illegal for an occupying state to “transfer parts of its own civilian population onto the territory it occupies”. The complainants thus claim that Israel is in breach of this law, and that the defendants are assisting in this breach.

The complainants also asked the court to determine whether the construction violated Canada's Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Civil Code of Quebec.

Legal Proceedings

On 9 July 2008, Bil'in sued sister companies Green Park International and Green Mount International for $2 million in punitive damages in the Quebec Superior Court. The complainants also asked the court for an injunction to stop further construction, and to demolish apartment buildings already erected in Moddin Illit, a Jewish settlement northwest of Ramallah.

On 18 September 2009, the Superior Court of Québec dismissed the claim. Although the court concluded that it had jurisdiction over the action, it declined to exercise jurisdiction because it considered the Israeli judicial system in a better position to decide on the action.

The court acknowledged that if the allegations were true, the defendants would be liable for “knowingly favoring a breach” of international law under Québec law.

On 11 August 2010, the Superior Court’s decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeal. On 3 March 2011, an application for leave to appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Latest Legal News

On 28 February 2013, the complainants filed an individual complaint to the Human Rights Committee under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) alleging that Canada had breached its obligations under the ICCPR by failing to prevent Green Park and Green Mount from continuing its activities on the West Bank.

However, on 16 October 2017, the Human Rights Committee decided that the communication was inadmissible under Art 2 of the Optional Protocol. The Committee confirmed that there are situations where a State party has an obligation to ensure that rights under the ICCPR are not impaired by extraterritorial activities conducted by enterprises under its jurisdiction. However, the Committee decided that the nexus between Canada’s obligations under the ICCPR, the actions of Green Park International and Green Mount International and the alleged violation of the complainants’ rights was “not sufficiently substantiated” to render the case admissible.

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