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Advocating for human rights in a state of emergency

Graphic: Ammar Dwiak, Executive Director of Palestine's Independent Commission for Human Rights

Palestine’s NHRI has published a report of its activities following the state of emergency declared in the territories in response to COVID-19.

Palestine's national human rights institution has published a detailed report of its activities following a state of emergency declared by President Mahmoud Abbas to counter the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The month-long state of emergency, first declared on 5 March 2020, included restrictions on freedom of movement, the suspension of all activities in educational institutions and the closure of public venues and businesses.

On 3 April 2020, the state of emergency was extended for another month, expiring on 3 May 2020.

To ensure that human rights standards were upheld during this time – in accordance with the Palestinian Basic Law, national legislation and international human rights treaties to which Palestine is party – the Independent Commission on Human Rights:

  • Made public statements on the responsibility of the Government to ensure that any restrictions on rights are limited to those necessary to achieve the purpose of the state of emergency; to which President Abbas responded by posting on his Facebook page that the Government would not misuse its powers during this time
  • Published guidance notes and recommendations on the deprivation of liberty, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Rights of Women during COVID-19, as well as a Guide for Judges, Public Prosecutors and Lawyers
  • Provided advice on the safety of persons in places of detention, which resulted in, among other things, a policy to reduce the number of inmates in detention centres, to fully empty some detention centres and to implement a range of health measures in remaining centres
  • Followed up to ensure the safety of women victims of family violence housed in protection centres
  • Monitored quarantine centres in Gaza and the West bank to ensure they met international quarantine standards
  • Inquired into 85 complaints of human rights violations related to COVID-19 (21 received in the West Bank and 64 received in Gaza)
  • Reviewed all policies and legislation related to the state of emergency and, as necessary, provided comments to the relevant authorities
  • Conducted online workshops with several law faculties and legal clinics in Palestinian universities, as well as provided online training for medical workers and journalists in Gaza
  • Launched a national and international campaign to advocate for the rights of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons.

A copy of the full report and all activities conducted by the ICHR is available on the APF website.

Date: 15 May 2020

Image credits

  1. Ammar Dwiak, Executive Director of Palestine's Independent Commission for Human Rights - APF/James Iliffe