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Al-Haq Welcomes Recent Reconciliation Agreement and Urges Respect for Human Rights and the Rule of Law

Thursday, 05 May 2011 15:15 Ref.: 173/2011
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As an organisation dedicated to the protection and promotion of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Al-Haq supports the recent reconciliation agreement between Palestinian political factions. While welcoming this development, Al-Haq would urge the political leadership to adopt a clear national strategy to ensure political stability and respect for human rights. This agreement must be taken as an opportunity to put in place concrete measures aimed at achieving a viable democratic state based on the rule of law.

In times of transition from conflict or injustice, it is essential to put in place mechanisms to achieve accountability and redress for victims. Such strategy will help rebuild the Palestinian people’s trust in the authorities and in the legal system.  Firstly, it is essential that the recommendations made by the Palestinian Independent Investigation Commission on the violations of international law committed by the Palestinian sides in connection with ‘Operation Cast Lead’ are implemented.  In relation to mechanisms of transitional justice, Al-Haq would also urge that the following measures be taken:

Justice for victims: The government must recognise and take steps to address violations of human rights, and acknowledge harms suffered. This must include a formal apology to victims of violence carried out during the period of political division. Al-Haq would encourage the formation of a truth commission or similar means of investigating and reporting on human rights violations committed therein. Specifically, there should be the reinstatement of any individual whose employment was illegitimately terminated as a result of political rivalry and any monies or assets confiscated from individuals or organisations on the same basis must be returned.

Criminal investigations: Any person suspected of having committed crimes motivated by political rivalry must be held accountable. In order to ensure effective accountability, it is essential that any such person must be excluded from government positions. Such endeavours will send a strong signal to citizens and to the international community that politically motivated criminal activity will not be tolerated in a transparent and rights-based society.

Institutional and legislative reform: There must be immediate reform of institutions that have contributed to human rights violations during the period in question. Of particular importance are the Palestinian Military Courts, which operated without adherence to rule of law standards and which saw the illegal and arbitrary imprisonment of civilians. Civilians detained on the basis of illegal military arrest warrants and military sentences must be released and their case reviewed by the appropriate civil judiciary bodies.  Any legislation enacted during the period of political division that conflicts with Palestinian Basic Law and/or international human rights standards must be repealed.

Al-Haq also urges that the authorities adhere to all democratic principles essential for the development of a future Palestinian state. This includes the maintenance of an independent, impartial judiciary free from improper influence by the government or partisan interests. Measures must be taken to improve the electoral system, with elections subject to independent monitoring. Palestinian civil society must operate free from interference and disruption and the government must take any measures necessary to promote its development. In this regard, Al-Haq would encourage the formation of an independent committee to examine the current condition of civil society after the long political divisions and make recommendations for its strengthening.

While urging for the above recommendations to be promptly implemented, Al-Haq would like to reiterate its support for Palestinian political reconciliation as a crucial first step for the Palestinian people to achieve their national goals of freedom and eventually enjoy their right to self-determination.

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