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UN appoints Argentina's Santiago Cantón to head Palestine deaths investigation

Santiago Cantón will head a three-member commission to investigate "alleged violations and abuses, including those that may amount to war crimes" in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in 2018.

Thursday 20 September, 2018
Buenos Aires province's Human Rights Secretary Santiago Cantón hold up a copy of a report on human rights in Venezuela he helped author during a press conference at the Organization of American States May 29, 2018 in Washington, DC. Cantón contributed to an OAS-commissioned report released Tuesday that said that 'reasonable grounds exist to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Venezuela' since Feburary 2014, including arbitrary detention, murder, extrajudicial killings and other crimes.
Buenos Aires province's Human Rights Secretary Santiago Cantón hold up a copy of a report on human rights in Venezuela he helped author during a press conference at the Organization of American States May 29, 2018 in Washington, DC. Cantón contributed to an OAS-commissioned report released Tuesday that said that 'reasonable grounds exist to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Venezuela' since Feburary 2014, including arbitrary detention, murder, extrajudicial killings and other crimes. Foto:Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP

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The United Nations Human Rights Council has appointed Santiago Cantón to lead an inquiry into the 2018 protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Cantón is the Secretary of Human Rights in the Buenos Aires provincial government of María Eugenía Vidal. He will replaced David Michael Crane of the United States who "recently stepped down as a member of the three-person Commission", according to the OHCHR.

Cantón and co-commissioners Sara Hossain (Bangladesh) and Kaari Betty Murungi (Kenya) will "investigate all alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests that began on 30 March 2018".

Their aims will be to "establish the facts and circumstances, with assistance from relevant experts and special procedure mandate holders, of the alleged violations and abuses, including those that may amount to war crimes" and "to identify those responsible", according to the OHCHR. 

BACKGROUND

Cantón is widely respected among Argentina's human rights organisations, despite his responsibilities in a provincial government allied with President Mauricio Macri.

Since coming to power in 2015, Macri and his allies have had a tense relationship with human rights groups. However, Cantón has often taken a different tune than his political bosses on controversial issues including the Supreme Court's 2-for-1 ruling, the national government's handling of case of the disappearance and death of Santiago Maldonado, and the so-called Chocobar affair.

Cantón has previously served as the director of RFK Partners for Human Rights at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights; the Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; and the  first Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression in the Inter American System.

See also: Interview with Santiago Canton: 'Maduro could be arrested based on the ICC’s decision'

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