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Concern About Serious Individual Human Rights Violations And Threats To Freedom Of Expression From Activities Of Palestinian National Authority Security Services

 

Published @ 11.00am GMT on 4/1/96

PRESS RELEASE

CONCERN ABOUT SERIOUS INDIVIDUAL HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND TRREATS TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSIOIV PROM ACTIVITIES OF PALESTINIAN NATIONAL AUTHORITY SECURITY SERVICES

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights expresses great concern at the arrest of Bassem Eid at 10.00pm on the night of 2/1/96. Eid is a human rights fieldwork researcher with the Israeli human rights orgnanisation B’Tselem.

Eid was arrested and was neither interrogated nor charged, nor given grounds for his arrest. Reasons given for the arrest by the Palestinian Authority’s security spokesperson were vague, general and not acceptable. The Palestinian National Authority must ensure that its security services adhere to internationally accepted standards in regard to arrest procedures. These are explicitly laid out in Article 9 of both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

There have now been three very serious and flagrant violations of basic individual human rights during a one month period:

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      i) The arrest of Dr Iyad Saraj the General Commissioner of the Independent Commission for Human Rights;

      ii) the arrest of the Deputy Editor of Al Quds, Maher El Alami;

      iii) the arrest of Bassem Eid, the fieldwork researcher of Bltselem.

All of these arrests violate the same basic human rights and all have serious consequences for the freedom of expression. What is of particular note is that these violations occur during the electoral process, a time when the importance of the freedom of expression is particularly acute. This was a matter which the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has written about with great concern in the Report which we published recently on the Palestinian Authority’s Press Law 1995.

There does not seem to be an effective or clear chain of command between the Palestinian Authority and its security services. This is of serious concern in regard to the issues of accountability, authority and legality of their activities; and must be confronted by the Palestinian Authority if it is to ensure that international standards are adhered to.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights is particularly concerned that the Palestinian National Authority does not seem to be constrained by the fact that each of these individuals are well respected and have high profiles.

We are concerned that these individual rights violations do not develop into a pattern of flagrant and continued abuse and that they remain isolated incidents.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights calls upon the

Palestinian National Authority:

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      .i) to ensure that these abuses perpetrated by its security services are not repeated;

      ii) an effective and transparent chain of command is developed which ensures accountability;

ill) to ensure that security service activities do not violate internationally accepted standards and norms, are within the rule of law and that they follow proper legal procedures.

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