Fact Sheets

PCHR Documents

Theme Packages



How to Help


29 Omar al-Mukhtar St

PO Box 1328

Gaza City

Gaza Strip

via Israel


972 8 282 4776

972 8 282 5893

972 8 282 3725




Fact Sheet: Human Rights and the Palestinian National Authority

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is an autonomous entity created by the Oslo accords that administers part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).[1]  Although it is accorded security and civil control over 18% of the OPT and civil control only over 41%, its existence does not change the legal status of the Gaza Strip and West Bank (including east Jerusalem) as occupied territories, as Israel invades PNA-controlled areas at will, and its policies still have a direct impact on all aspects of life in the OPT.  The PNA’s human rights record fails to meet international standards in several areas:


  • Illegal arrests.  Since its creation in 1993, the PNA has carried out numerous politically motivated arrests under Israeli or American pressure, often without charge and in violation of international human rights standards.  In addition, Palestinian police have failed to implement judicial orders issued by Palestinian courts to release illegally detained individuals.  The PNA released nearly all of its prisoners at the beginning of the al-Aqsa Intifada, fearing that detention facilities would be bombed by Israeli warplanes.  In the autumn of 2001, however, the PNA resumed its practice of illegal arrests without evidence or judicial process.

  • Torture and ill-treatment.  During 2001, at least four Palestinians died under suspicious circumstances in PNA custody, indicating that torture continues to be used.

  • State security court.  The PNA has established special state security courts to bypass the judiciary, violating standards of transparency and due process.  Trials are often summary and take place before military judges with court-appointed defence counsel; sentences are carried out without opportunity for appeal.

  • Death penalty.  The PNA has in rare cases sentenced prisoners to death, often for alleged collaboration with Israeli occupying forces.  PCHR is categorically opposed to the death penalty.

  • Collaborators.  Many of those subjected to torture, unfair trials, and the death penalty have been accused of collaborating with Israeli occupation forces.  This situation is further complicated by the Oslo accords, which grants blanket immunity to any Palestinian who has “maintained contact with the Israeli authorities.”  PCHR supports investigation, trial, and punishment for collaborators, but maintains that such processes must meet international human rights standards.

  • Democratic institutions.  Before the al-Aqsa Intifada, the executive branch of the PNA regularly undermined the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), failing to ratify laws that have been passed, ignoring the PLC’s demands and orders, and failing to consult it properly.  The PLC has been unable to meet during the al-Aqsa Intifada due to the closure imposed by Israel.

[Last updated 18 March 2002]


[1] The PNA is distinct from the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), which is considered the representative of the entire Palestinian people throughout the world.  Both are under the leadership of Yasser Arafat.