Palestinian Authority

Thematic Reports

Mechanisms of the Commission on Human Rights

Arbitrary detention, Working Group on: (E/CN.4/2001/14, paras. 55, 56, 57)

Eight urgent appeals were transmitted, seven of them jointly with other mechanisms, to the Palestinian Authority on behalf of 55 persons; no details are provided in the report.

Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Special Rapporteur on: (E/CN.4/2001/9, paras. 12, 14, 16, 30, 37; E/CN.4/2001/9/Add.1, paras. 436-437)

An urgent appeal was sent to the Palestinian Authority concerning one person who was sentenced to death for murder. The information received indicated that the proceedings before the State Security Court did not conform to international fair trial standards - namely, that the defendant was not given sufficient time to prepare his defence and that he would not be entitled to appeal the verdict to a higher court. The Special Rapporteur urged the Palestinian Authority to order a stay of execution so that the case could be thoroughly reviewed.

One allegation was also transmitted concerning one person who was arrested by the Preventive Security Service and died at Dhaheria prison while in the custody of the Palestinian police. It was alleged that the charges against him were unknown to the family and that no visitors were allowed to see him at any time.

Freedom of opinion and expression, Special Rapporteur on: (E/CN.4/2001/64, paras. 231-236)

Together with the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur (SR) sent an urgent appeal concerning the arrest and detention of leading Palestinian intellectuals. The information obtained indicated, inter alia, that they were arrested by the Palestinian police in November 1999 following the issuing of a public statement criticizing the Palestinian Authority for corruption and calling for presidential and parliamentary elections; several of those arrested were transferred to the General Intelligence detention centre, while others were held at the police criminal department in Nablus; some were detained without charge and had been denied access to their lawyers.

Other communications and appeals related to the following cases: the editor and chief of the newspaper The Hebron Times, who was summoned in February 2000 by the Palestinian Authority General Intelligence concerning an article in which he allegedly criticized President Arafat on the issue of refugees, noting that he was also summoned by the Israeli District Coordination Office in connection with the same article and, later that month, was asked to publish material favourable to President Arafat if he did not want to see the publication close; the arrest of the director-general in the Ministry of Youth and Sports in response to his active participation in a demonstration for Palestinian prisoners on the same day; the detention of a Palestinian journalist who was summoned for an interview by the Palestinian General Intelligence at the Ramallah and Al Bireh Governor's Headquarters, possibly as a result of his participation in a televised discussion on the Palestinian Authority's policy of shutting down local television and radio stations, as well as his opinions published in the Al Istiqlal newspaper.

An urgent appeal was also sent in response to the arrest of one of the president's advisers on refugee affairs and a political leader of the Palestinian Liberation Front, noting that the arrest was allegedly in connection with statements he made to Jordanian and Gulf newspapers regarding a just and final settlement of the refugee question and the alleged administrative corruption surrounding the issue. He was released from Ramallah Central Prison in October 2000.

Independence of judges and lawyers, Special Rapporteur on the: (E/CN.4/2001/65, paras. 18, 20, 171-177)

In February 2000, the Special Rapporteur (SR) sent a communication concerning the situation of some judges and members of the prosecution in the West Bank who had declared a strike. The strike took place as the result of a mob of people storming the Court of First Instance in Bethlehem, locking the judges and the prosecutor inside the court building and demanding that a 15-year sentence imposed on a defendant be withdrawn. It was alleged that some members of the mob were dressed in military clothing.

In May 2000, the SR sent a communication concerning the Palestinian Bar Association (PBA), noting that the Acting Council of the association had notified 31 lawyers that they were being transferred from the list of practising lawyers to the list of non-practising lawyers, depriving them of the right to appear before Palestinian courts. Many of the lawyers removed were from human rights organizations. This decision was taken on the last day before the expiry of the term of the Acting Council, which had been appointed by President Arafat three years previously.

The SR transmitted to the Palestinian Authority the case of one lawyer, director of the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment (LAW). The information received indicated, inter alia, that the chief of General Intelligence in the Northern Districts had asked the deputy head of the PBA to dismiss the lawyer; the deputy head had rejected the request and advised the chief of General Intelligence to lodge a formal complaint with the PBA; in response to the lawyer's statement that the weakness of the PBA could be due to the fact that many of its members work for the security forces, the deputy head publicly threatened to kill him; the Al Hayat Al Jadida newspaper published a statement by the head of the PBA to the effect that a director of an NGO should not be permitted to be a member of the Bar.

Torture, Special Rapporteur on: (E/CN.4/2001/66, paras. 1292-1306)

The individual cases transmitted to the Palestinian Authority related to the following incidents, inter alia: the arrest of one person by the Preventive Security Service and his death in custody; the arrest of one person by the Palestinian Intelligence Service, followed by interrogation over 15 days, beatings, sleep deprivation, being forced into painful positions for long periods of time (shabeh); the torture and ill-treatment of one person arrested by the Palestinian General Intelligence; the arrest of one person who subsequently required medical attention, noting that he died before reaching hospital and that an autopsy revealing that he had been tortured to death; the arrest of two brothers who were beaten and denied access to legal representation, noting that the Ramallah police commander justified the beating of detainees by the need to force them to confess; the arrest without warrant of a professor at al-Najah National University in Nablus, whose lawyer was twice been denied access by officials at the Jericho prison; a campaign of mass arrests of students, university employees and activists in and around Birzeit University in the West Bank, following an incident after the visit of the French Prime Minister, noting that at least 35 persons were reportedly held incommunicado at the Palestinian Authority Military Intelligence and Police Headquarters in Jericho and that some were said to have been beaten; the arrest without warrant of a resident of Deir Sharaf, Nablus District, who was held in incommunicado detention by agents of the Hifz al-Nizam (Protection of Order), on suspicion of collaboration with Israel; the arrest of a coordinator of the social work unit of the Addameer Association, a journalist of the Al Ayyam newspaper from Ramallah, and two other persons by Palestinian Preventive Security Service officers without any official warrants or bills of indictment, noting that the actions were part of an arrest campaign in the Ramallah and Al Bireh area that was targeting active members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; the arrest of the director-general in the Ministry of Youth and Sports (see "Freedom of expression"); the arrest of eight persons in the West Bank by members of the Preventive Security Service, noting that some were said to be detained incommunicado at Junyad prison, in Nablus, and others in Baytunia.

The SR noted that no response had been received from the Palestinian Authority to allegations and concerns transmitted since 1998.