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PCHR Releases Annual Report 2019

Ref: 13/2020 

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights released its Annual Report 2019 on 01 April 2019, which covered the period from 01 January to 31 December 2019. This is the 23rd edition of PCHR’s Annual Report, as the Centre has maintained this tradition since 1996.

In departure from the norm where PCHR would hold a launching ceremony for its annual report that is attended by governmental and civil society organizations, as well as public figures, for this year, PCHR has cancelled the even due to the coronavirus pandemic and sufficed with an online release.

The annual report comes in two parts; the 1st addresses the state of human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL) in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt); and the 2nd part illustrates PCHR;s program activities in 2019 on the national and international levels.

The 1st part of the report documents Israeli occupation forces (IOF) war crimes and violations of international law and international human rights law in the oPt throughout the year, as IOF continued to use its indiscriminate policy of willful killing and excessive use of force against the Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Of the most prominent crimes committed by IOF are:

  • the continued killing of civilians at the Great March of Return (GMR) peaceful protests along the eastern and northern borders of the Gaza Strip;
  • the ongoing illegal and inhuman 13-year closure imposed on the Gaza Strip;
  • settlement expansion activities and other procedures put in place to crumble Palestinian land and cut it apart, creating an apartheid that aborts the chance of a Palestinian State existing on lands occupied in 1967;
  • systematic practice of demolition of civilian houses and other civilian properties in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip;
  • continued imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians including women and children, during IOF raids into Palestinian cities, villages and refugee camps and arresting civilians at their homes, at the military checkpoints established throughout the West Bank, or in the Gaza Strip at the border fence, Beit Hanoun “Erez” checkpoint or at sea.

Additionally, the report documents violations of human rights and obstacles to democratic transformation under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian National Authority (PA). The report documents a deterioration in the human rights situation in 2019 under the ongoing internal split, as it was further institutionalized and rooted into the Palestinian political system.

The year of 2019 witnessed a collapse in the legislative process in Palestine, and augmentation of the split in the judicial authority and the attempts of the executive authority to undermine its independence and control it. Also in 2019, the executive authorities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip continued to violate the rights and public freedoms of citizens, including infringement on the freedoms of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly, and arbitrary detention and other practices.

Furthermore, 2019 witnessed an increase of restrictions imposed on companies’ work, including non-profits, in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, while Israel continued to attack them fiercely to delegitimize them and dry up their funding sources.

During the year, security services in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip continued the policy of arbitrary and recurring arrest and detention of civilians for long periods without following the proper legal procedures. Furthermore, security services continued using torture and cruel treatment against the detainees in the prisons and detention facilities.

The last quarter of 2019 gave a glimpse of hope for Palestinians after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared in his speech before the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on 26 September 2019, that he shall call for general elections in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. Yet, 2019 ended without an agreement on the date for the general elections.

The 2nd part of the report provides an overview of the Centre’s strategic priorities that guided its work throughout the year, including the dedication of its efforts to hold Israeli war criminals accountable, particularly through enhanced work with the International Criminal Court (ICC) and other international mechanism; monitoring, documenting and exposing Israeli crimes and arbitrary practices against Palestinians. Furthermore, the report illustrates PCHR’s work on the Palestinian agenda, as the Centre mobilized all its resources to promote democratic transformation and protection of human rights, which are seriously challenged under the 13-year standing Palestinian political division. Additionally, this section highlights PCHR work on organizational capacity building to strengthen the organization’s efficiency and efficacy and ensure compliance with its values.

PCHR’s Annual Report is issued in Arabic and English, and it is distributed nationally and internationally to civil society organizations, national and international human rights organizations, official and governmental bodies, diplomatic missions and representative offices, United Nations bodies, journalists and media. Additionally, PCHR issued a separate general report summary in English and Arabic.