The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) welcomes the upcoming meeting of the EU-Palestinian Authority (PA) Joint Committee due to take place on 10 December 2012. This meeting is an important opportunity for the EU to follow up on the discussions that took place in the EU-PA human rights subcommittee on 8 May 2012 and to raise human rights violations with the PA.
The EMHRN calls on the EU to raise in particular the following violations human rights concerns relating to the rule of law and accountability:
- The lack of independence of the attorney general/prosecutor general: EMHRN is concerned about the fact that the Palestinian attorney general/prosecutor general is not independent, but rather is heavily influenced by the President and pressured by security forces. The attorney general/prosecutor general has great discretion in reviewing, monitoring, overturning and openly criticising the conduct of the intelligence services and his inability to independently exercise these powers is undermining the credibility of the Palestinian justice system and the rule of law.
- The continued vetting of civil servants: On 24 April 2012, the Ministerial Cabinet issued a decision putting an end to unlawful security vetting/clearance process for civil servants. While the EMHRN welcomes this decision it is not yet fully implemented and civil servants continue to be subjected to vetting processes.
- Military trials against civilians: The EMHRN welcomes the fact that since 15 January 2012 no civilians have been brought before Palestinian military courts. However, the EMHRN is concerned that the decision to no longer bring civilians before military courts was not based on an official and legally binding decision, but rather is a result of a political agreement reached between leaders of the Palestinian intelligence services. This is highly problematic as such an agreement is not binding and can be arbitrarily implemented depending on the political situation. Furthermore, civilians convicted by military courts prior to the 15 January 2012 have not been allowed re-trial before civilian courts.
- Lack of accountability for suppression of demonstrations: This year has seen the violent suppression of several peaceful demonstrations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). With respect to the suppression of demonstrations on 30 June and 1 July of this year, the Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council found, inter alia, that disproportionate force was resorted to, journalists and demonstrators were detained and beaten, and that statements by security forces and political officials encouraged the security forces to resort to violence against demonstrators. Violence was also resorted to during demonstrations in the OPT in September. Moreover, despite investigative committees set up to by the Ministry of Interior and the President’s office to investigate the suppression of demonstrators, thus far, members of security forces considered responsible for the violent suppressions have not been held accountable for their actions. EMHRN stresses that the PA must respect the right to freedom of expression and assembly and that those who were found responsible for violating the rights of Palestinians and journalists should be held accountable for it.
For further information please see EMHRN and Palestinian human rights NGOs’ recommendations on the new EU-PA action plan (March 2012).