Ref: 38/2018

Today, 01 November 2018, the Palestinian Center for Human rights (PCHR) organized a panel discussion about the legal review that was prepared by PCHR for the draft to amend the NGOs and Charities Law of 2000.  The panel discussion was attended by representatives of the civil society organizations and journalists at PCHR’s Head office in Gaza City. The panel was held in light of the issuance of a draft to amend the abovementioned law without knowing the authority issuing it.

The panel was opened by Mr. Hamdi Shaqoura, PCHR’s Deputy Director for Program Affairs, who welcomed the attendees and stressed the importance of holding this panel discussion because it sheds light on the draft to amend the Charities law despite the ambiguity besetting its issuance. He pointed out that the authority behind its issuance must be an official authority and by professional experts with a legal background. Shaqoura stressed the need to unify efforts to cancel this draft- whoever was behind it unless the official authorities did not officially declare their responsibility for issuing it.

Mohammed Abu Hashem, a legal researcher at PCHR, gave a presentation of the most important issues in the legal review of the draft to amend the NGOs and Charities Law during which he said that the draft came in 22 Articles and the review addressed and criticized 12 Articles that violate the right to form associations according to the Basic Law and PA’s international binding standards since its accession to the two International Covenants of Human Rights. Abu Hashem emphasized that this project came to reinforce the Ministry of Interior’s control over associations in order to legalize the arbitrary legal practices that currently exist without a legal basis. He also said that these amendments aim at controlling the funds and managing the sources funding the associations in order to have a full control of the funds and administration of associations. The authorities usually attempt to pass such interventions and amendments under the pretext of fighting corruption and enhancing the democratic representation in associations. Abu Hashem confirmed that through PCHR’s follow-up of several associations’ file and the Interior Ministry’s conduct, one can say that the Ministry uses the legal and illegal procedures to control associations, their decisions, activities and orientations for political interests in the first place in addition to imposing its control, which will cumulatively lead to establishing a civil society that is subservient to the political authority.

After that, interventions were made in which participants discussed their views of the draft to amend the law and expressed their disapproval of it. They also agreed on the importance to unify the civil society organizations’ efforts to face this project and put pressure on the official authorities to cancel it.