Dr. Mahmoud Aker, ICHR Commissioner General, has explained the position of ICHR regarding the approval by members of the Reform and Change bloc of the Palestinian Legislative Council in the Gaza Strip of a draft law regulating the work of ICHR in its second reading, after the first reading was approved earlier this month.
Dr. Aker pointed out during a press conference held in ICHR Headquarters in Ramallah on 26 August 2010, in the presence of its Executive Director Ms. Randa Saniora, the danger of the illegal decision taken by members of the Reform and Change bloc of the PLC, as the manner in which the PLC is functioning in the Gaza Strip is illegal and unconstitutional. He added that ICHR is a national institution, and not an NGO nor a governmental institution, acting in conformity with article 31 of the Amended Palestinian Basic Law of 2003.
The Commissioner General stressed that ICHR will, despite this decision, continue to work with full neutrality, independence and objectivity, and the latest developments will not affect its position or its role of documenting violations of human rights and public freedoms.
He criticized the position of the members of the Reform and Change bloc in the West Bank ‘from whom we have heard nothing regarding this decision since two weeks, they approved of the draft law in the first reading and the other day, they approved of ICHR‘s law in the second reading. We wonder over this position, and we ask them to give an answer to all this; whatever their position is. Our position is clear and we will not change our work even if they take over our offices. If they do so, we shall continue to work in our houses", he explained.
Siniora, for her part, explained the role of ICHR in promoting and protecting human rights in Palestine stressing that ICHR‘s position and mechanisms of work and handling of human rights issues won‘t change. It will continue to work with professionalism, neutrality and independence despite the decision of members of the Reform and Change bloc of the PLC in the Gaza Strip.
She said that ICHR demands members of the Reform and Change bloc of the PLC in the Gaza Strip to back down on their decision approving ICHR law which is illegal and unconstitutional, and to focus efforts on safeguarding human rights which are violated due to the internal political division.
She also demanded that the ICHR law be discussed once a plenary session of the PLC is held, in the spirit of national unification. She also stressed the necessity of not encroaching on the work of ICHR as it is an independent national institution for human rights, basing its work on Article 31 of the Palestinian Amended Basic Law of 2003, with the mission of monitoring and protecting human rights in Palestine.
ICHR called on all human rights organizations on the local, regional and international levels, as well as the International Coordinating Committee for National Human Rights Institutions (ICC) to take appropriate action to ensure that the work of ICHR is not threatened in the Gaza Strip.
ICHR has released a statement expressing its deep concern over the decision of members of the Reform and Change bloc of the PLC in the Gaza Strip approving ICHR law in the second reading, after the first reading was approved earlier this month.
ICHR views that the passing of this law in its second reading will have serious repercussions on the ongoing internal political division, as it threatens the existence of ICHR which is the only constitutional commission still operating in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to document and monitor violations of human rights and promotes and protects human rights with regard to Palestinian official institutions.
On another note, Dr. Aker criticized the security agencies for preventing the convention of the Palestinian national conference, which was expected to voice its opposition to direct negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel on Wednesday 25 August 2010 in Ramallah. He denounced the statements of Major General Adnan Dmeiri who claimed that the police didn‘t intervene in the conference but prevented "an illegal rally". Dr. Aker said he did not understand how prohibiting a peaceful rally could be referred to as "legal" at a time when national figures, journalists and representatives of media were attacked by security agencies. The attack of such people implies that the Palestinian Authority is moving towards a policing system reminding us of the Nazi party conduct towards its political opponents denying them the right to express their opinion. He added that it is essential to to abide by the spirit of the law not only its text.
He held high the position of president Abbas, prime minister Fayyad and the Fatah bloc on the incident, as they had called for the formation of an independent investigation commission free of any security officer, working within a definite time frame. This committee should publish its findings at the end of its mission to hold those in charge accountable, he added.
The Commissioner General stated "we extrapolate that the security agencies act without referring to the political level or carry out the agenda of some powerful political officials; both cases paved the way, throughout history, for the emergence of "fascist regimes".