Ref: 20/2012

 

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)
participated in the 80th session of the UN Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), in Geneva, Switzerland. CERD is
mandated to review State Parties’ periodic reports in light of the treaty-based
obligations arising from the International Convention on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination.  

 

Israel, a State Party to CERD, was reviewed on
15-16 February. Mr. Davide Tundo, a member of PCHR’s International Unit, participated
as an observer. Mr. Tundo also participated in a series of informal briefings
with members of the Committee, during which he addressed Israel’s persistent
refusal to apply the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and
to report on its implementation, despite the explicit request of the Committee
in its concluding observations of 2007.

 

In particular, Mr. Tundo conveyed PCHR’s belief
that Israel’s practices and policies, enforced in the context of its occupation
of the oPt, discriminate against Palestinians’ right to justice, in violation
of Israel’s specific obligations under, inter
alia
, the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

 

In effect, equal access to justice, and the protection
of the law on a non-discriminatory basis are currently unattainable for
Palestinians appearing before the Israeli legal system.

 

Specific instances, presented by PCHR in its
alternative report to the Committee, include the blanket prohibition on
claimants, witnesses and lawyers from Gaza appearing before Israeli courts, as
result of Israel’s long standing illegal closure policy of the Gaza Strip.
Moreover, prohibitive court insurance fees, which PCHR believes are being
applied in a discriminatory way, constitute a monetary barrier for Palestinians
wishing to file a civil compensation claim against the Israeli Ministry of
Defense. 

 

These factors have contributed to denying
Palestinians’ full access to justice, including judicial redress for civilian
victims of grave violations of international law, such as those committed by
Israel during its military operations in the Gaza Strip, including the 27
December 2008 – 18 January 2009 offensive on the Gaza Strip.

 

 

PCHR believes that Israel’s discriminatory
actions against Palestinians’ right to justice, considered in combination with
other human rights violations committed in the context of the illegal closure
of the Gaza Strip, may constitute the crime against humanity of persecution, as
stated by the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.

 

Other instances, such as the prohibition of
family visits for Gaza prisoners in Israeli detention centers and Israel’s
failure to halt and duly punish racially-motivated settler violence against
Palestinians in the West Bank, have been also incorporated in PCHR’s report and
brought to the attention of the Committee.

 

PCHR strongly believes in the centrality of the
rule of law and accountability with respect to the promotion and protection of fundamental
human rights. This is particularly evident in the oPt, where the systematic
violation of Palestinians’ human rights is made possible by a climate of
pervasive impunity, both within Israel’s legal system, and at the international
level.  

It is therefore necessary that the Committee,
in its concluding observations delivered on the close of the 80th
session in March, strongly condemn Israel’s discriminatory actions.

 

PCHR’s report to the Committee is available here.

 

For further information please contact

Mr. Raji Sourani (Director, PCHR) pchr@pchrgaza.org

Mr. Daragh Murray (International Unit, PCHR) daragh@pchrgaza.org

Mr. Davide Tundo  (International Unit, PCHR) davide@pchrgaza.org