Ramallah/Brussels: The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), represented by its Executive Director Ms. Randa Siniora, has taken part in the meeting of the Palestinian Authority – European Commission subcommittee on human rights, good governance and the rule of law in Brussels which took place at the end of February 2010.
ICHR‘s interventions were related to the situation of human rights in the Palestinian-controlled Territory, noting that progress had been made with regard to the practice of torture and ill-treatment in Palestinian detention centers and penitentiaries in the last quarter of 2009. Siniora further presented the main human rights violations registered through complaints that ICHR received through the year such as arbitrary detention, lack of implementation of court decisions, violation of the right to hold public office, freedom of association and freedom of expression.
ICHR‘s presence was important in the meeting as an independent body monitoring Palestinian official institutions and its security agencies. ICHR‘s contribution was highly welcomed by the European Commission (EC) and also the Palestinian Authority (PA) who saw in that an important step to ensure transparency and accepting ICHR‘s criticism on numerous issues. The participants agreed on the requirement of a new action plan between the PA and the EC since the new Palestinian government has developed a plan with focus on different sectors.
Palestinian Ambassador to the EU, Mrs. Laila Shahid, indicated that she saw in this sub committee a good partnership between the PA, the EC and ICHR and that there was room for positive interaction during the meeting despite certain challenges.
Representatives of various Palestinian ministries took part in the meeting, whose main speaker was Deputy minister of justice Khalil Kharaja who presented a paper in the name of the Palestinian delegation, with focus on the importance of the strategic plan between the EC and the PA despite all challenges mainly the Israeli occupation measures and human rights violations. He called on the EC as part of the international community who has legal obligations to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Ahmad Rweidy, on his part, as head of the Jerusalem unit in the Presidential office stressed the Palestinian vision of an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital. He presented the Israeli policies of illegal annexation land expropriation, closure of Jerusalem with the annexation wall, ID confiscation and house demolitions.
Majed Bamieh from the Palestinian General Delegation to the EU spoke of the Goldstone report and indicated that internal investigation committee had been formed to investigate violations committed on the internal level in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
The European Commission stressed the importance of implementing the recommendations of the Goldstone report and said it shared the PA‘s concern regarding Jerusalem indicating that it will not recognize any changes of 1967 occupied Palestinian territories and is working on several projects in the city related to health, education and social services which it will develop in the coming years.
Other members of the Palestinian delegation presented papers on the violations of freedom of movement, both inside the West Bank and between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails; rehabilitation of ex-detainees; women‘s and children‘s rights; Palestinian presidential and legislative elections; good governance; justice sector strategy.
The concluding remarks during the meeting by ICHR included the necessity to ask the President of the PNA to issue a decision by law for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, as well as a presidential decree prohibiting torture and ill treatment in places of detention, as well as the importance of the PA to take into serious consideration the recommendations of ICHR‘s 15th annual report on the status of Human Rights in Palestine which will be published in a few weeks time.