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Introduction

 

The
Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) focuses on the development of civil
and political rights as a part of its work monitoring the human rights
conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), which includes the
territories under the control of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). One
of the rights that PCHR seeks to develop is the right to form associations. The
enjoyment or non-enjoyment of this right reflects the type of society being
created and developed. Civil society organizations (CSOs), including
non-government organizations (NGOs), played a major role in keeping the
Palestinian identity, which was founded during in the Ottoman Empire. These
organizations aimed at resisting the occupation and supporting the Palestinians
socially and economically. Since their inception, CSOs have contributed to the
promotion of the process of community development by offering basic services at
the health, agricultural and relief levels. Conversely, CSOs have played a
vital role advancing democratic process and political participation.  

 

The
creation of an effective and independent community is the only guarantee for
the establishment of a democratic society and regime. In so doing, a legal
framework in accordance to international standards and therefore ensuring the
protection of the right to form associations is required. Legislation enacted
with the purpose to control associations is contrary to democratic standards
and undermine the very essence of democracy.

 

To
support the right to form associations PCHR observes the violations to this
right in the territories controlled by the PNA. In particular, PCHR monitors
the measures, decisions and legislations implemented by the PNA that could
impose restrictions on that right, which is guaranteed under domestic and
international laws. PCHR thoroughly investigates claims of violations against
CSOs to determine whether these allegations are based in unlawful acts by the
government or not. PCHR offers legal advice to associations and civil society
activists regarding the laws and regulations that organize the work of
associations. It also provides legal support in restoring the rights in case
official bodies had violated them. Ultimately, one of the tools applied by PCHR
to confront the violations of the right to form associations is to publish
these violations through periodicals and reports.

 

This Report, which is the second of its kind, is issued in light of PCHR’s
observation of widespread violations on the right to form associations committed
against CSOs[1] in Gaza and the
West Bank. These violations are located against the backdrop of the prevailing
Palestinian fragmentation since June 2007. In particular, this report deals
with violations committed between November 2009 and October 2011. Thus, it
continues the work of the first report on violations of the right to form
associations issued in November 2009, which covered the period from mid June
2007 to the end of October 2009.  The
first section of the present report discusses the right to form associations in
accordance with the relevant international standards, while the second part
discusses the domestic legislation that organize the work of associations under
the PNA, including decisions and decrees issued after the fragmentation between
the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The third part addresses the violations against
the right to form association in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.  Finally, the fourth part presents a number of
conclusions and recommendations to the two governments in Gaza and in Ramallah.

 

The full report is available online at:

http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/2011/palestinian_violations_against.pdf



[1]This report does not address
violations against international organizations operating in the oPt, which
would include measures recently taken by the Ministry of Interior in Gaza against these
organizations.  Such violations are out
of the scope of the present report and need to be addressed in detail in a
separate research.