PCHR Participated in the 22nd Session of the Human Rights Council

For the 22nd Session of the Human Rights Council, taking place in Geneva from 25 February to 22 March 2013, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) submitted a written statement, titled “The Torture and Ill Treatment of Palestinian Prisoners by the Israeli Occupying Power”. Additionally, PCHR, together with the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), the Europe – Third World Centre (CETIM), and the American Association of Jurists (AAJ) issued two joint oral statements, which were presented to the Council by representatives of IADL. These oral statements related to Israel’s refusal to submit its Universal Periodic Review, and the report of the UN mandated International Fact-Finding Mission investigating the impact of the Israeli settlements on the human rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

Additionally, on 4 and 5 March 2013, a delegation organized by PCHR participated in the sessions of the Human Rights Council, during which the reports of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders were considered. On 6 March 2013, in cooperation with the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), PCHR organized a side event that took place alongside the session of the Human Rights Council. The delegation presented testimonies and personal statements based on their experiences, giving concrete examples of the suffering of the Palestinian people. The event concluded with a lively Q&A session.

In its written statement, PCHR outlines the prevalence of torture and ill treatment of Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails and detention centres, both inside Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). It provides the Human Rights Council with information regarding Israel’s continued violation of its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law, in particular the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment – to which Israel is a State party.

During 2012, PCHR received increasing numbers of complaints of torture and ill treatment in detention, including of minors. Furthermore, the Israeli authorities continue to deprive Palestinian prisoners and detainees of family visits and other basic rights, such as access to medical services, education, adequate nutritious food, suitable clothing, and means for maintaining personal hygiene. Incommunicado detention also continues to be applied by Israel, denying Palestinians their rights to legal counsel and family visits. This incommunicado detention puts detainees at a higher risk of torture and other forms of ill treatment. The use of administrative detention also remains an issue of critical concern, as it is applied in violation of Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture. Finally, Israel’s transfer of Palestinian detainees and prisoners to detention facilities and prisons inside Israel constitutes a violation of Articles 49 and 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the (forcible) transfer of detainees and prisoners outside of the occupied territory.

In its statements, PCHR calls upon the UN Human Rights Council, the UN General Assembly, and the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to take steps to ensure and protect the basic rights of Palestinian detainees and prisoners held by Israel.

Submission documents: 

Written Statement:

“The Torture and Ill Treatment of Palestinian Prisoners by the Israeli Occupying Power”.

Joint Oral Statements:

“Item 6: Universal Periodic Review. General Debate”, regarding Israel’s refusal to submit review;

“Item 7: Interactive Dialogue with the FFM”, on the Findings of the Fact Finding Mission on Settlements.

For the 22nd Session of the Human Rights Council, and as part of its ongoing efforts to advocate for the rights of Palestinian prisoners held in the Israeli prisons, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) organized an international speaking tour for a delegation from Gaza, which included two mothers of prisoners in Israeli prisons and two former prisoners who were imprisoned for years in Israeli jails. The delegation was led by Jaber Wishah, PCHR’s Deputy Director for Branches Affairs.

On 4 and 5 March 2013, the delegation participated in the sessions of the Human Rights Council, during which the reports of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders were considered. On 6 March 2013, in cooperation with the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), PCHR organized a side event that took place alongside the session of the Human Rights Council. The delegation presented personal testimonies based on their experiences, giving concrete examples of the suffering of the Palestinian people. The event concluded with a Q&A session.

In addition to activities with the different UN bodies in Geneva, the delegation had a number of meetings in Egypt, Switzerland and France.

During meetings in Egypt the delegation shared their personal testimonies, discussed the situation of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails in light of continued Israeli violations against them, recent developments, and the case of ‘Arafat Jaradat, 30, who died in Israeli detention, according to initial investigations as a result of torture. They met with, amongst others: Mr. Sayed Abdel Ghani, the Assistant Secretary-General of the Arab Bar Association; Mr. Islam Abu al-‘Aenein, the Director of Programs of the Arab Organization for Human Rights; Mr. Abdullan al-Asha’al, from the National Council for Human Rights; and Mr. Mohammed Sobeih, the Assistant Secretary General of the League of Arab States.

During their stay in Geneva, the delegates had numerous meetings, including with: Counsellor Mahmoud Afifi, representative of the Egyptian Mission to the European Office of the United Nations; Mary Lawlor, Director of Front Line Defenders; Edris al-Yazmi, President of the National Human Rights Council in Morocco; Mada Andinas, a member of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mohammed al-Khamlishi, Assistant Secretary-General of the League of Arab States; Kevin Turner, Human Rights Officer for Middle East and North Africa; the Pakistani Counsellor Mariam Aftab; J. Melih, Officer of the Middle East Sector and Central Follow-up and Protection in the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); Celine Matter, Deputy Head of Operations for the Near and Middle East; Seyit Yoaniqe, Human Rights Officer for the Permanent Mission of Turkey to the UN in Geneva; Ambassador Suleiman Sheikh, the Permanent Observer of the OIC to the UN in Geneva and Vienna; Member of the Swiss Parliament, Carlo Somarruga; and a number of solidarity groups and committees. Finally, in Bern the delegation attended the annual meeting of the World Council of Churches.

Subsequently, during their visit to France, the delegation participated in a number of activities and meetings with French solidarity associations and their representatives, and they met with Claude Lefort, President of France-Palestine Solidarity Association, Flofia Kojini, Director of Relations and International Cooperation in the Municipality of Nantes, and Hayel al-Fahoum, the Palestinian Ambassador in Paris.

The delegation concluded its international tour and traveled back to Gaza on 15 March 2013. PCHR organized this international tour for the delegation of families of the Palestinian prisoners as a part of its ongoing efforts to support Palestinian prisoners, to internationalize their cause, and mobilize public support.

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