11 AUGUST 2009REF.: 34.2009E
The Human Rights Committee (‘the Committee‘), the treaty body which considers the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (‘the Covenant‘) by States, has repeatedly asserted that Israel’s obligations, which arise
from the Covenant, apply to the Palestinian population on both the West Bank and the Gaza strip. Al-Haq notes, however, Israel’s continued disregard for its obligations under the Covenant and has submitted its Alternative Report in response to the Third Periodic Report submitted by Israel to the Committee on 9 August 2009. The vast majority of findings in the Alternative Report are substantiated by Al-Haq’s field information, including in the form of client affidavits which are contained in Annexure (B), and summarised in Annexure (A).
The Alternative Report is intended to be of use by the Committee in the formation of its ‘List of Issues‘, and it highlights the lack of implementation by Israel of certain obligations set out in the Covenant. In particular it addresses the following Covenant Articles: Article 1 (self-determination), Article 2 (applicability of the Covenant), Article 4 (state of emergency), Article 6 (right to life), Article 16 (recognition as a person before the law), Article 17 (arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy and family), Article 18 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion), Article 19 (right to freedom of expression and to hold opinions), Article 21 (right to peaceful assembly), Article 22 (freedom of association), Article 25 (right to vote and be elected) and Article 26 (equality before the law).
The Alternative Report asserts that Israel poses formidable obstacles to the realisation of Palestinian self-determination, and recounts the numerous violations of the right to life of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, both by Israeli military forces and by Israeli settlers. The Alternative Report also draws to the attention of the Committee the numerous violations of Palestinians’ civil and political rights which take place and include violations of the right to practice one’s religion, to engage in elections, to elect chosen political representatives and to have public gatherings in which national and cultural heritage is celebrated. The violation of the right to freedom of expression posed by the restrictions placed on journalists, human rights defenders and academics is also documented, in addition to other discriminatory practises by Israel.
After reviewing Israel’s Third Periodic Report in October 2009, the Committee will release its ‘Concluding Observations‘, in which it will highlight matters of concern in relation to Israel’s implementation of the Covenant, its recommendations and its consideration of the difficulties Israel may encounter with regards to implementation.