On Tuesday, 25 July 2017, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) organized a workshop titled as, “Consequences of Former Prisoners’ Salary Suspension on their Economic and Social Rights” in light of the National Unity Government’s decision to suspend the salaries of 277 former prisoners. This workshop came as part of the efforts and activities held to practice pressure for abolishing this decision. The workshop, which was attended by former prisoners, representatives of Defending Prisoners’ Rights Organizations and representatives of civil society and Media, aimed at discussing the consequences of former prisoners’ suspension on their economic and social rights and their life conditions in order to come up with recommendations contributing to protecting prisoners’ and their families from the deterioration of their social and economic conditions.
The workshop was opened by Dr. Fadel Muzeini, a researcher at PCHR’s Economic and Social Rights Unit. Muzeini emphasized that PCHR has paid special attention to prisoners and former prisoners over their years of work and always supported their just causes. He also stressed that the Palestinian Authority’s decision to suspend the salaries of former prisoners is unfair and in violation of former prisoners and their families’ right to a decent life. He added the decision is unconstitutional and explicitly violates the Basic Law and Prisoners and Former Prisoners Law No. 19/2004 and its amendments, which guarantee former prisoners’ rights to be monthly paid a salary according to a specific system.
Lawyer Raji Sourani, PCHR’s Director, reviewed PCHR’s position on the suspension of former prisoners’ salaries. He said that the decision of suspending former prisoners’ salaries was shocking to the prisoners, their families and all Palestinians as it is illegal, immoral, and violates the Basic Law and the international human rights law. Sourani also demanded the Palestinian Authority to apologize for this unjust decision, end this abnormal situation and regularly re-pay the former prisoners’ salaries, considering all of this as a lawful right for the prisoners and former prisoners.
Qaddour Faris, Head of Palestinian Prisoner’s Club, reviewed the Club’s position on the suspension of former prisoners’ salaries. Faris stressed that the decision was blacked out, and there is no document either in the Presidium or the Council of Ministers proving the issuance of such a decision; however, the reality indicates the actual suspension of 227 former prisoners’ salaries. He added that this does not appeal to the values and ethical standards. He also said the decision is wrong, unacceptable and legally invalid, so since then the Prisoner’s Club has continuously worked to end this decision.
Mahmoud al-Muradawi, a former prisoner whose salary was suspended, addressed the consequences of Former Prisoners’ Salary Suspension. He emphasized that the prisoners, who have been always biased towards Palestine and the Palestinian cause, suffer from the discrimination against them for their affiliation with Palestinian factions. Al-Muradawi added that there is no justification for this action taken against former prisoners, fearing that this decision is due to the American pressure practiced on the Palestinian Authority as the U.S envoy to the Palestinian Authority has always called for suspending the financial allocations to the prisoners and families of martyrs and freedom fighters.
Mustafa al-Masalamani, from the National Committee to Defend Prisoners whose Salaries were suspended, displayed the updates on the case of former prisoners’ salaries suspension. He emphasized that the former prisoner’s salary is a right guaranteed by his struggle and sacrifices and the law as well. He added that since the very beginning of suspending the former prisoners’ salaries, the Committee has made efforts to repay the salaries. He clarified that some of the prisoners were re-paid, but this is not enough, calling for repaying all the former prisoners’ salaries without discrimination and keeping prisoners away from the political conflict. Al-Masalamni criticized the poor activities held by the Palestinian factions to support the prisoners’ rights, particularly their right to receiving their salaries.
Yasser Saleh, Media Officer in Muhjat al-Quds Foundation, highlighted the legitimate rights of former prisoners. Saleh stressed that the former prisoners have rights guaranteed by the Basic Law and Prisoners Law and so should be maintained and protected. Saleh added that the consequences of former prisoners’ salaries suspension seriously affect the prisoners and their families. He expressed his concerns that the salaries suspension would be in the terms of giving up on freedom fighters and that the decision will also affect in the next period more prisoners from other factions.
At the end of the workshop, the discussion was opened for participants, who made a number of interventions and asked questioned. The participants concluded to a number of recommendations; most prominent of which were as follows:
- Calling upon the Palestinian President and National Unity Government to immediately end this unlawful decision, which targets former prisoners’ livelihood;
- Calling upon the President and Prime Minister to instruct the Finance Minister to repay all former prisoners’ salaries pursuant to the rule of law and achieving justice;
- exerting all efforts to mobilize syndicates and community organizations to put an end to this unjust decision, which violates the Palestinian Basic law and Prisoners’ Law; and
- Calling upon the Palestinian factions and civil society organizations to fulfill their national and moral obligations and practice their role in practicing pressing to end this decision.