|PCHR Appears before UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination; Denounces Israel’s, Discriminatory Treatment of Palestinians with regard to the Right to Justice|
|Sunday, 19 February 2012 00:00|
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) participated in the 80th session of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), in Geneva, Switzerland. CERD is mandated to review State Parties’ periodic reports in light of the treaty-based obligations arising from the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Israel, a State Party to CERD, was reviewed on 15-16 February. Mr. Davide Tundo, a member of PCHR’s International Unit, participated as an observer. Mr. Tundo also participated in a series of informal briefings with members of the Committee, during which he addressed Israel’s persistent refusal to apply the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and to report on its implementation, despite the explicit request of the Committee in its concluding observations of 2007.
In particular, Mr. Tundo conveyed PCHR’s belief that Israel’s practices and policies, enforced in the context of its occupation of the oPt, discriminate against Palestinians’ right to justice, in violation of Israel’s specific obligations under, inter alia, the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
In effect, equal access to justice, and the protection of the law on a non-discriminatory basis are currently unattainable for Palestinians appearing before the Israeli legal system.
Specific instances, presented by PCHR in its alternative report to the Committee, include the blanket prohibition on claimants, witnesses and lawyers from Gaza appearing before Israeli courts, as result of Israel’s long standing illegal closure policy of the Gaza Strip. Moreover, prohibitive court insurance fees, which PCHR believes are being applied in a discriminatory way, constitute a monetary barrier for Palestinians wishing to file a civil compensation claim against the Israeli Ministry of Defense.
These factors have contributed to denying Palestinians’ full access to justice, including judicial redress for civilian victims of grave violations of international law, such as those committed by Israel during its military operations in the Gaza Strip, including the 27 December 2008 – 18 January 2009 offensive on the Gaza Strip.
PCHR believes that Israel’s discriminatory actions against Palestinians’ right to justice, considered in combination with other human rights violations committed in the context of the illegal closure of the Gaza Strip, may constitute the crime against humanity of persecution, as stated by the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.
Other instances, such as the prohibition of family visits for Gaza prisoners in Israeli detention centers and Israel’s failure to halt and duly punish racially-motivated settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, have been also incorporated in PCHR’s report and brought to the attention of the Committee.
PCHR strongly believes in the centrality of the rule of law and accountability with respect to the promotion and protection of fundamental human rights. This is particularly evident in the oPt, where the systematic violation of Palestinians’ human rights is made possible by a climate of pervasive impunity, both within Israel’s legal system, and at the international level.
It is therefore necessary that the Committee, in its concluding observations delivered on the close of the 80th session in March, strongly condemn Israel’s discriminatory actions.
PCHR’s report to the Committee is available here.
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