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5.8.10

UN Human Rights Committee concludes that Israel violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

On 29 July 2010, the Human Rights Committee (the Committee) adopted its Concluding Observations on Israel’s implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the Covenant).

AL-HAQ PRESS RELEASE
DATE: 03 AUGUST 2010
REF.: 175/2010


The Committee concluded that Israel violates the Covenant with respect to several of the rights enshrined therein, and in particular the obligation to apply the Covenant to the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Despite Israel’s claim, rubber-stamped by the Israeli High Court of Justice, that it is not an Occupying Power with respect to certain parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Human Rights Committee emphasized that Israel remains an Occupying Power over the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. Moreover, the Committee reiterated that “the applicability of the regime of international humanitarian law does not preclude accountability of States parties under article 2, paragraph 1, of the Covenant for the actions of their authorities or agents outside their own territories, including in occupied territories”. Thereby the Committee affirmed that “All decision makers, be they military and civilian officials, should be investigated and where relevant prosecuted and sanctioned”.
As such, with respect to the findings of the UN Fact-finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, the Committee regretted that Israel “has not yet conducted independent and credible investigations into the serious violations of international human rights law, such as direct targeting of civilians and civilian objects, including infrastructure such as waste water plants and sewage facilities, use of civilians as ‘human shields’, refusal of evacuation of wounded, firing live bullets during demonstrations against the military operation and detention in degrading conditions”.
With respect to the attack on the Freedom Gaza Flotilla, the Committee declared that Israel “should invite an independent, international fact-finding mission to establish the circumstances of the boarding of the flotilla, including its compatibility with the Covenant.”
Other principle areas of concerns which the Committee found to be incompatible with the Covenant are:

- Israel’s use of administrative detention, in particular for children. In addition to calling on Israel to refrain from resorting to such detention, the Committee told Israel to “Grant administrative detainees prompt access to counsel of their own choosing, inform them immediately, in a language which they can understand, of the charges against them, provide them with information to prepare their defence, bring them promptly before a judge and try them in their own or their counsel’s presence”;
- the continued creation of a “Seam Zone” by means of construction of the illegal Annexation Wall, which the Committee stated should be stopped;
- the construction of settlements in the occupied territories, which the Committed held should be halted;
- Israel’s illegal blockade on the Gaza Strip, which the Committee declared should be lifted;
- Israel’s failure to incorporate the prohibition of the crime of torture in its legislation, and allegations of torture against Palestinian detainees, as well as Israel’s justification for torture under “defence of necessity cases”;
- the recent Military Orders 1649 and 1650, in light of which the Committee concluded that Israel should refrain from expelling long-term residents of the West Bank based on their former addresses in the Gaza Strip, and that the committee for the examination of deportation orders is not independent and lacks judicial authority;
- the “Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary provision) which should be revoked;
- Israel’s policy denying Palestinians their right to family reunification;
- Israel’s practice of collective punitive home and property demolitions, and Israel’s housing policy and issuance of construction permits which should be reviewed “with a view to implementing the principle of non-discrimination regarding minorities, in particular Palestinians and to increasing construction on a legal basis for minorities of the West Bank and East Jerusalem”. Furthermore, the Committee noted that Israel “should further ensure that municipal planning systems are not discriminatory”; and
- the “water shortages affecting disproportionately the Palestinian population of the West Bank, due to prevention of construction and maintenance of water and sanitation infrastructure, as well as the prohibition of construction of wells. The Committee is further concerned at allegations of pollution by sewage water of Palestinian land, including from settlements”.

On the occasion of Committee’s review, Al-Haq, in coordination with other human rights organisations brought to the experts’ attention several serious concerns about Israel’s active denial of Palestinians’ human rights. Al-Haq and COHRE submitted a Joint Alternative Report outlining Israel’s illegal administrative and punitive house demolitions (in particular the increase of demolitions in occupied East Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank), as well as forced evictions of Palestinian families. The organisations took the opportunity to elaborate on the Human Rights Committee’s unprecedented inclusion of the right to water and sanitation to the Covenant, by providing the Committee with cases and legal analysis showing that Israel is discriminatorily allocating water and sanitation services between settlements and Palestinian homes, as well as deliberately attacking Palestinians’ water and sanitation infrastructure, in particular in the Gaza Strip throughout the blockade and during “Operation Cast Lead”.

Al-Haq, in its Alternative Report, also provided evidence on Israel’s violations of the Palestinians’ right to freedom of movement, including the obstacles created by the illegal Annexation Wall, the excessive use of checkpoints and the recent Israeli Military Orders 1649 and 1650.

For the full Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee on Israel, please click here:
http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.nsf/0/51410ebd25fce78f85257770007194a8?OpenDocument