Under the theme Dignity, Freedom and Justice for Palestinian Youth ICHR and partners observe the International Human Rights Day
Under the theme Dignity, Freedom and Justice for Palestinian Youth
ICHR and partners observe the International Human Rights Day
Officials and representatives of local and international human rights organisations stressed that application of the rules of international law and human rights was a global responsibility. The international community must intervene and put an end to the crimes committed by the Israeli occupying authorities against the Palestinian people, particularly the youth.
This statement was made in the celebration organised by the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) in partnership with the Ministry of Justice, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and Human Rights Platform. On the 74th occasion of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the event was held under the theme Dignity, Freedom and Justice for Palestinian Youth.
The celebration brought together Dr. Mohammed Shalaldeh, Minister of Justice; Mr. Issam Arouri, ICHR Commissioner General; Mr. Ketil Karlsen, Danish Ambassador to Palestine; Mr. Ajit Singhai, Director of the OHCHR Office in the oPt; Ms. Lynne Hastings, United Nations Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Resident Humanitarian Coordinator in the oPt; and Mr. Sven Burgsdorff, representative of the European Union.
The event was also attended by a select number distinctive guests from official bodies and community organisations, university students and professors, human rights activists, media representatives, members of the legal community, representatives of the diplomatic corps accredited to the State of Palestine, and Palestinian Police and security agencies.
Asserting that human rights apply to all people around the world, Hastings stated that she was aware of the reality experienced by the Palestinian people, who live under the occupation and suffer from Israeli practices. Hastings reported that, over the past two weeks, the Israeli occupying forces have killed an average of one person every day. She called for placing a focus on the youth and promoting their participation in political life as well as at different levels.
Recalling part of contemporary history, Arouri stated that the Palestinian people have suffered from many international developments and transformations, resulting in a declining interest in the question of Palestine. Arouri emphasised that Palestinians should not falter to hold student, union, and general elections in spite of the Israeli occupation and Israel’s positions and measures.
Arouri wondered why laws, such as a Law on Family Protection against Violence, have not been enacted. He also asked why international conventions, including those on torture at places of detention, have not been put into effect. According to Arouri, the Palestinian people are now at a critical historical juncture in view of the developments on the Israeli political scene and shift to the far right. This coincides with further deterioration of the Palestinian situation and ongoing internal political divide.
In spite of this melancholic setting, Arouri emphasised that Palestinians would need to cling to hope, work towards implementing the Algiers Agreement, approve laws on protection, and rejuvenate the role, and maintain independence, of the judicial system. Palestinians need to engage in serious dialogue to form a national unity government, adopt policies that promote citizens’ perseverance, prepare for presidential and legislative elections, and agree on a definition of the national project, while at the same time avoiding that it is subject to partisan and political rivalries. Arouri demanded that the international community cease neutrality on Israeli violations against the Palestinian people.
Shalaldeh stressed the importance of UDHR as a global human rights document. He indicated that the State of Palestine was proud to accede to all international conventions and additional protocols on human rights.
Shalaldeh noted that the State of Palestine was committed to implementing all human rights conventions and harmonising national legislation with the provisions of these instruments. On the other hand, Shalaldeh made an overview of the suffering inflected on the Palestinian people as a result of Israel’s abuses of Palestinian rights.
According to Shalaldeh, the State of Palestine has the right to hold Israel to account for its crimes. He called on the international community to put into force the rules of international law, shoulder its responsibilities for holding Israel accountable for its practices across Palestine, open an immediate investigation into Israeli actions, and enable the Palestinian people to enjoy their right to self-determination.
Outlining that the UDHR was a key international milestone, Singhai explained that Palestinian youth were constrained by the ongoing conflict and the Israeli blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip. For the OHCHR, Palestinian youth are a priority. In his televised presentation, Singhai stated that Palestine had a “vibrant” civil society and called for empowering the youth across the spectrum of human rights as well as providing protection to human rights in Palestine.
Karlsen commended the Palestinian Authority for paving the way to putting in place a national preventative mechanism against torture. Stressing the need to listen to the youth and their aspirations, Karlsen elaborated that human rights should be applied in the entire world. Karlsen further wondered about the reason behind the failure to enable many Palestinian generations to enjoy their various rights.
Observance of the International Human Rights Day included several events. Moderated by Dr. Dwaik, a number of specialists in human rights and youth issues took part in an interactive session, entitled “The Youth and Digital Space”. The session engaged Mr. Burgsdorff, EU representative, Ms. Sahar Francis, Director of the Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association (ADDAMEER), Nadeem Nashif, Director of the Arab Center for Social Media Advancement (7amleh), Ms. Lama Shuaibi, representative of the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH), and Ms. Siwar Odeh, representative of the Youth Advisory Group.
In this session, interlocutors spoke about youth concerns and issues as well as about the means which the youth need to adopt in order to make their voice heard. Palestinian youth are most targeted by the Israeli occupying forces, who murder, detain, and torture them. At the same time, youth are the group to count on.
From a human rights platform, the audience to listened to human rights messages delivered by European ambassadors to the State of Palestine. In these, ambassadors emphasised their friendly countries’ commitment and support to promoting human rights in Palestine.
Youth initiatives for human rights were presented by law students at the Hebron, Al-Quds, Al-Istiqlal, Birzeit, An-Najah, and Arab American universities as well as the Modern University College. Each initiative shed light on a particular human right. Combined, these initiatives will be implemented in 2023 with a view to raising public awareness about human rights. Students engaged in these initiatives for human rights were honoured. Awards were also presented to gifted children of the Gifted Children Forum for art works that articulated their aspirations for securing and enjoying their rights.
An award was also conferred to Lieutenant Colonel Murad Ali of the Palestinian Police Department of Correction and Rehabilitation Centres. On the sidelines of the celebration, an exhibition of handicrafts made by female inmates of correction and rehabilitation centres was organised. The Folklore Band of the Al-Istiqlal University also performed a heritage song.