Question of Palestine home
Contribution des ONG aux activités de l’ONU - Palestinian Centre for Human Rights - Rapports quadriennaux 2004- 2007
Economic and Social Council
25 March 2009
Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations
2009 resumed session
18-27 May 2009
Quadrennial reports for the period 2004-2007 submitted by non-governmental organizations
in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council through the Secretary-General
pursuant to Council resolution 1996/31
Note by the Secretary-General
* Reports submitted by non-governmental organizations are issued without formal editing.
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Part 1: Introduction
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is an independent Palestinian human rights organization and non-profit company based in Gaza city. PCHR was established in 1995 by a group of Palestinian lawyers and human rights activists, in order to (i) protect human rights, and promote the rule of law in accordance with international standards, (ii) create and develop democratic institutions and an active civil society, while promoting democratic culture within Palestinian society, and (iii) support all efforts aimed at enabling the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable rights with respect to self-determination and independence in accordance with international law and UN resolutions. In the fulfilment of its mandate, PCHR provides
legal assistance and representation, engages in international advocacy, and contributes to an understanding of the human rights situation in the Gaza Strip, and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) through the preparation of numerous reports and position papers.
On 6 October 2005, PCHR was accepted as an organizational member of the International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC). In addition, in March 2007, the Centre became a member of the International Coalition Against the Death Penalty.
Part II. Contribution of the Organization to the Work of the United Nations
Participation in the work of the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies and/or major conferences and other United Nations meetings.
Cooperation with United Nations bodies and/or specialized agencies in the field and/or at Headquarters.
PCHR’s mandate is fully consistent with the principles and purposes of the United Nations, particularly as these relate to ‘encouraging universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms’. PCHR actively participates in the appropriate intergovernmental fora as extensively as possible. However, the closure regime imposed on the Gaza Strip by Israeli authorities is very restrictive in this regard. Consequently, PCHR primarily advances the work of the United Nations via its widespread PCHR’s mandate is fully consistent with the principles and purposes of the United Nations, particularly as these relate to ‘encouraging universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms’. PCHR actively participates in the appropriate intergovernmental fora as extensively as possible. However, the closure regime imposed on the Gaza Strip by Israeli authorities is very restrictive in this regard. Consequently, PCHR primarily advances the work of the United Nations via its widespread work in the OPT. The Centre’s documentation serves as a principal point of reference, both for organisations of the United Nations – such as,
, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – and other international human rights organisations, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Through the provision of extensive and credible documentation and reporting, PCHR attempts to circumvent the closure regime, and advance the protections extended to the civilian population of the OPT.
This report covers four areas of PCHR’s work as it relates to ECOSOC’s mandate: (i) the provision of pro bono legal aid, (ii) documentation and reporting, (iii) international advocacy, and (iv) training. Only those issues specifically relating to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) will be detailed herein, consequently the presented data only represents a fraction of PCHR’s total work in the pursuit of its mandate, and the promotion of human rights.
(i) Legal Aid
Throughout the reporting period, PCHR extended extensive pro bono legal aid and representation to its clients. Numerous cases, pertaining to issues of personal status and family law, were taken before the domestic shari’a court system. Many of these cases relate to instances of institutionalized gender-based discrimination. PCHR also pursues criminal cases before the Israeli courts. Only those cases concerning ECOSOC-mandated issues – such as, inter alia, restrictions on freedom of movement, house demolitions, destruction of property, confiscation of land, and attacks on fishermen – will be discussed herein.
In 2004, 321 cases were taken before the shari’a court system, while 696 criminal cases were pursued before Israeli courts. In 2005, 452 cases were taken before the shari’a court system, while 655 criminal cases were pursued before Israeli courts. In 2006, 596 cases were taken before the shari’a courts, and 213 criminal cases were pursued Israeli courts. In 2007, 547 cases were taken before the shari’a court system, and 217 criminal cases were pursued before Israeli courts. Over the reporting period, free legal advice was extended to countless individuals.
(ii) Documentation and Reporting
In order to provide detailed information relating to the human rights situation in the OPT, PCHR carries out extensive documentation and reporting related to civil and political rights as well as social, economic and cultural rights. Each year, specific reports are prepared on issues pertinent to the ECOSOC and UN wide mandates, including both annual and periodic reports: for example, reports on: ‘the impact of the Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip on Economic Social and Cultural Rights’ and ‘Israeli violations of the right of Palestinians to Worship Freely’.
In 2004, 21 in-depth reports were published in addition to 17 ESCR-related press statements and field workers investigated 4,130 cases relating to ESCR violations. In 2005, 13 specific in-depth reports, and 17 ESCR press statements were released, while field workers investigated 47 ESCR-related cases. In 2006, 24 in-depth reports were released, as well as 20 ESCR-related press releases, field workers documented,
, 934 house demolitions, and the razing of 4,419 donumms
of agricultural land. In 2007, 14 in-depth reports were released, in addition to 30 ESCR-related press releases and PCHR field workers documented,
, 131 house demolitions and the razing of 1190 donumms of agricultural land.
(iii) International and regional advocacy
PCHR contributes widely to human rights based advocacy -despite the difficulties of movement and access to and from the Gaza Strip -both via participation in international and regional conferences and meetings, and in receiving international and regional delegations. In the reporting period, PCHR representatives attended 106 international meetings, including specific delegations to France and the United Kingdom in 2004 and the UN Conference of NGOs in Palestine in 2006. In the reporting period PCHR received 134 delegations; including Pierre Sane Assistant Director of the General Social and Human Sciences Sector at UNESCO, Costanza Farina, Head of Office at UNESCO in 2004, the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the Situation of Human Rights in the OPT in 2004, 2005, 2006, and the Head of Regional Political Affairs of UNESCO and the Head of UN OHCHR in 2007. From 2004-2005 PCHR made 14 interventions, and joint interventions, to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and ECOSOC, on topics such as the integration of the human rights of women and the gender perspective, and the rights of the child. In 2006, the international unit produced an intervention to the United Nations on the deliberate destruction of Palestinian infrastructure and massive escalation of human rights violations in the Gaza Strip as well as an intervention to the United Nations General Assembly on the construction of the separation barrier in the West Bank, and an intervention to the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights. In addition, PCHR Director Raji Sourani attended ECOSOC sessions in Geneva 7/8 September 2006, and PCHR staff member Eoin Murray attended ECOSOC sessions on 8/9 March 2005.
3) Initiatives undertaken by the organization in support of the Millennium Development Goals
The outreach, education and training undertaken by PCHR contributed to the protection of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. During the reporting period (2004-2007) PCHR conducted 76 training sessions with a broad range of participants; including human rights courses for school staff members, female police, women’s rights activists, young lawyers, and medical professionals, NGOs, and human rights observers. Responding to MDG 3 (promoting gender equality and empower women) PCHR monitored female participants in trainings; in 2007, out of a total of 482 trainees, 54.6% were Palestinian women. Also responding to MDG 3, the women’s unit organized lectures on the rights of women and children – The outreach, education and training undertaken by PCHR contributed to the protection of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. During the reporting period (2004-2007) PCHR conducted 76 training sessions with a broad range of participants; including human rights courses for school staff members, female police, women’s rights activists, young lawyers, and medical professionals, NGOs, and human rights observers. Responding to MDG 3 (promoting gender equality and empower women) PCHR monitored female participants in trainings; in 2007, out of a total of 482 trainees, 54.6% were Palestinian women. Also responding to MDG 3, the women’s unit organized lectures on the rights of women and children – 407 in the reporting period – and several workshops on legal protection mechanisms for victims of violence against women, women and political participation and women and the law. In 2007 the training unit organized 14 lectures, targeting 300 individuals, on the rights ensured by human rights law, including the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The women’s unit and training unit carried out its activities in cooperation and coordination with a number of United Nations agencies, including,
OHCHR, UNRWA and UNIFEM.
A donumm is a measurement of 1,000 square metres.