State of Palestine under review: complicated on account of the occupation

Published on 16 Jul 2023, 09:05 PM

The Human Rights Committee reviewed Palestine on 5 and 6 July 2023.

Getty Images

The Human Rights Committee reviewed the initial report submitted by the State of Palestine on 5 and 6 July 2023, which outlined its efforts in implementing the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The territory of the State of Palestine includes the West Bank and the Gaza strip, though that territory has been under Israeli occupation for years. As a result, the implementation of some of the provisions in the ICCPR are not (entirely) under the control of the Palestinian authorities.

During the session, the Committee raised concerns regarding the treatment of political opponents, journalists, and human rights defenders, as well as the issue of the death penalty.

Israeli occupation

At the start of the dialogue, the Committee acknowledged its awareness of the Israeli occupation and the continued expansion of Israeli colonies as well as the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip. The Committee highlighted its grave concern, expressed during Israel's review in 2022, regarding its stance that the ICCPR did not apply to individuals under its jurisdiction but outside its territory, which contradicts Article 2. The Committee called upon Israel to align its position with international law. The Committee acknowledged the numerous obstacles hindering Palestine's full implementation of civil and political rights, but, by acceding to international human rights treaties, Palestine committed to respecting the rights and freedoms enshrined therein in territories under the Government's effective control. Therefore, the Committee's questions would address the situation of individuals under Palestinian jurisdiction, including those in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Death penalty

The Committee inquired about the draft legislation concerning the death penalty, seeking clarification on its provisions, status, and the potential timeline for implementation. Reports suggested that the State party was inclined towards regulating rather than abolishing the death penalty due to political constraints. The Committee asked whether Palestine would consider abolishing the death penalty altogether.

The Palestinian delegation explained that while the death penalty existed in the penal codes applied in civil and military courts, it had not been implemented since 2005. The delegation highlighted that, following the instructions of the President, death sentences had been either frozen or converted into life or other alternative sentences. They further informed the Committee about a draft code that proposed abolishing the death penalty in the military code, which would be addressed in the next Legislative Council. Additionally, they clarified that all capital punishment in Gaza was beyond the control of the Palestinian Government.

Freedom of expression

The Committee raised concerns about targeted actions against political opponents, journalists, and human rights defenders who expressed dissenting views towards the government, particularly through social media posts. The Committee emphasized that criticizing the government is a legitimate exercise of free speech and inquired about the steps taken to protect individuals, including journalists, who exercise their freedom of expression through social media or other means.

The delegation emphasized their belief in plurality and freedom of expression, stating that Palestinians respected the work of journalists and did not engage in acts such as deliberately murdering journalists, unlike the occupiers. They highlighted that freedom of expression was protected by law in Palestine, and Palestinians refrained from burning holy books or slandering any faith, unlike the settlers.

Watch again the dialogue with the Committee here (part one) and here (part two).

Recommendations of the Human Rights Committee

Concluding Observations on the State of Palestine's initial periodic report were released on 27 July 2023. The State party is requested to provide, by July 2026, information on the implementation of the following recommendations:

Violence against women and domestic violence

The State party should:

  • (a) Adopt and enforce a comprehensive law criminalizing all forms of violence against girls and women, explicitly addressing domestic violence, marital rape and crimes committed in the name of so-called “honour”;
  • (b) Repeal laws discriminating against women and pass legislation and reinforce public policies to protect women from violence;
  • (c) Ensure that cases of violence against women and girls, in the public space as well as domestic violence, are promptly and thoroughly investigated, that steps are taken during investigations to avoid the re-victimization of victims, that perpetrators are prosecuted and, if convicted, punished with penalties commensurate with the gravity of the offences and that victims receive full reparation;
  • (d) Enhance its efforts to provide training for law enforcement officials, members of the judiciary, prosecutors and other stakeholders on how to detect, investigate and handle cases of violence against women and girls, including domestic and sexual violence, effectively and in a gender-sensitive manner;
  • (e) Conduct public education programmes on discriminatory norms and beliefs to combat the stigmatization and re-victimization of women seeking help through the existing services of the national authorities, including for judges, prosecutors, law enforcement authorities and media;
  • (f) Abolish the practice of so-called “protective custody” in cases of genderbased violence and instead adopt protective measures, such as, for example, increasing the number of shelters, that ensure full protection of women’s rights;
  • (g) Encourage the reporting of violence against women, inter alia, by reinforcing existing or creating new reporting mechanisms and informing women and girls of their rights as well as the existence of legal assistance and other services through which they can receive protection and compensation;
  • (h) Strengthen awareness-raising among women and girls, including in rural areas, about the legal remedies available to ensure protection of their rights.

Access to justice, independence of the judiciary and fair trial

The State party should:

  • (a) Safeguard, in law and in practice, the full independence, impartiality and safety of judges and prosecutors and prevent them from being influenced in their decision-making by any form of undue political pressure;
  • (b) Ensure that procedures for the selection, appointment, suspension, removal and disciplining of judges and prosecutors comply with the Covenant and relevant international standards, including the Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary 14 and the UN Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors;
  • (c) Take all necessary measures to prevent and sanction any abuse of powers granted to the Supreme Council of Judicial Bodies and Authorities caused by undue interference from the executive branch undermining the independence of this body;
  • (d) Ensure that all defendants are afforded all fair trial guarantees in practice, regardless of their political affiliation or opinion, including equality of arms and presumption of innocence, in line with article 14 of the Covenant and the Committee’s General Comment No. 32 (2007).

Participation in public affairs

The State party should review the legal and institutional framework governing the holding of elections, notably as provided for by the Presidential Decree on 30 April 2021, to ensure that the postponement of elections is in line with the Covenant, including its articles 2, 18, 22 and 25. The State party should also take all necessary measures to prevent all cases of intimidation, attacks, arbitrary arrests and detention, and killings of opposition candidates and politicians, and ensure that such cases are promptly and thoroughly investigated, that the perpetrators are prosecuted and, if convicted, punished with penalties commensurate with the gravity of the offences, and that victims receive full reparation. The State party should also take all necessary measures to ensure that the Central Elections Commission is impartial and independent of the executive and can exercise its role as a guardian of democratic pluralism. The State party should also remove prohibitively high financial fees and administrative barriers preventing potential election candidates from presenting themselves.

Here you can find all the recommendations given by the Committee in the Concluding Observations.

The follow-up report of the State of Palestine on the implementation of the recommendations is due in 2026. The next list of issues will be adopted in 2029, and the next periodic report is due in 2030.

deneme bonusu bonus veren siteler bonus veren siteler deneme bonusu veren siteler
deneme bonusu veren siteler bonus veren siteler

Rules of Procedure of the Human Rights Committee

Rules of Procedure of the Human Rights Committee CCPR/C/3/Rev.10

Arabic | Chinese | English | French | Russian | Spanish

CCPR NGO Participation

Documents adopted by the Human Rights Committee (March 2012)

English | French | Spanish | Russian | Handbook

CCPR NHRI Participation

Documents adopted by the Human Rights Committee (November 2012)

English | French | Spanish | Russian | Arabic | Chinese