Ref: 69/2007

Date: 04 December  2007


PCHR Hosts High-Profile Delegation from the International Commission of Jurists

On 3 December 2007, PCHR hosted a high-profile delegation from the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) consisting of Mr. Nicolas Howen (ICJ Secretary-General) and Sa’id Bin Arabi (Legal Advisor for Middle East and North Africa). The delegation was on a 6-day mission to monitor the human rights situation in the OPT and Israel.

The delegation started their 2-day trip to Gaza by meeting PCHR’s Board of Directors. Then they met representatives of the civilian judicial system headed by the Deputy Chief Justice Yehia Abu Shahla. The judges gave an overview of the situation of the judicial system at the current time, and the obstacles they face. In addition to the judges, representatives from the Attorney-General’s Office, Bar Association, and human rights organizations were present at the meeting. The participants discussed the catastrophic impact of the closure on the Gaza Strip on its civilian population.

After the meeting, the delegation went on a field visit to the northern Gaza Strip. They visited Jabalia refugee camp to assess the situation of the civilian population, including the deterioration in the health and living standards and destruction of infrastructure. The delegation visited the houses of FArid Abu Odeh and Dr. Wahid Saleh who were killed by Israeli shelling.

On the second day of their visit, the delegation met several representatives of civil society organizations in the fields of agriculture, education, humanitarian assistance and rule of law. The meeting discussed the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and the impact of the Israeli closure on the civilian population and all sectors of life.

The delegation then met Dr. Basem Na’im (Minister of Health) and Sa’id Seyam (former Minister of Interior) to discuss the impact of the Israeli closure on different sectors, most notably the health sector, in addition to discussing the human rights situation in the Gaza Strip.

The delegation’s last meeting was with PCHR staff in the Center’s Gaza office.

The ICJ is an international non-governmental organization working to promote the rule of law and to provide legal protection to human rights and victims of human rights violations worldwide. The ICJ has 60 commissioners who are senior judges and lawyers from various parts of the world. In addition, there are 47 organizations affiliated with the ICJ, including PCHR.

It is noted that this is the third time that an ICJ Secretary-General visits the OPT since 1976 when the then Secretary-General Niel McDerman visited the area.