|PCHR deeply concerned about the holding of local elections in the West Bank in context of large-scale human rights violations|
|Thursday, 18 October 2012 00:00|
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is deeply concerned at the announcement by the Palestinian Authority (PA) that local council elections will be conducted in the cities and villages of the West Bank on Saturday, 20 October 2012, in light of the limiting of public freedoms and continuing widespread violations of human rights by the PA.
On 10 July 2012, the Central Elections Commission (CEC) was instructed to make the necessary arrangements in order to organize the elections in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip by the Council of Ministers in Ramallah. On 24 July 2010, following Hamas’ suspension of the work of the CEC in the Gaza Strip, the Council of Ministers annulled their previous decision, deciding to organize local council elections in the West Bank only.
The last local elections in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) for the majority of local councils were at held at various stages between December 2004 and December 2005; thus the mandate of these councils expired in December 2009. Over the past number of years, the separate governments of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have appointed new local councils directly. This has resulted in favoritism and the appointment of individuals to councils to which they were not elected.
As the mandate granted by the Palestinian people in local, legislative and presidential elections has expired, these institutions have lost their authorization to represent the will of the Palestinian voters. Therefore, the holding of renewed elections is the democratic entitlement of the Palestinian people. Nonetheless, the holding of any general or local election requires the fulfillment of certain conditions which are necessary to guarantee transparent and fair elections that reflect the will of the electorate. These conditions include, in particular, the protection of public freedoms, including the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the right to peaceful assembly, the right to form associations, freedom of the press, the release of political detainees, and an end to restrictions placed on political activities.
PCHR stresses that the political crisis and the fragmentation of the PA, which has been ongoing since 2007, are compounded by repeated delays to the holding of local elections. This fragmentation has impacted the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government in the oPt. It has also led to wide-scale violations of human rights and public freedoms by the authorities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and by their security services.
PCHR expresses its total support for the process of democratic transition in the PA, and wishes to emphasize the fact that democracy requires, inter alia, the organization of transparent and fair elections, which allow people to freely choose public representatives who are subject to accountability.
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