Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO), CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) presented a joint submission to the29th Session of the Universal Periodic Review Working group for the third cycle Universal Periodic Review-Israel session. The review session will be held on January 23, 2018 and will focus on the current human rights conditions, as well as the implementation of the recommendations received from previous two-cycles.
For the review session, 31 stakeholders presented reports focusing on violations committed by Israeli occupation against Palestinians including on economic and social rights, civil and political rights, prisoners conditions and children’s rights. PNGO, CIVICUS and ANND report documents in detail violations committed on civic space and concludes that international human rights obligations to create and maintain a safe and enabling environment for civil society is systematically violated by Israeli authorities. Israeli occupation failed to fulfill its obligations of the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression and unwarranted restrictions on human rights defenders (HRD), independence of media and access to information since its previous examination on 29th of October 2013.
The state of emergency in effect since 1948 has been used by the Israeli authorities as a tool to silence Palestinian civil society. For instance, on November 2015, several CSOs were based on regulation 84 (2) (b) of the 1948 emergency law; these organisations were working primarily on advocacy, media, relief and documentation of human rights violations. On the other hand, the Israeli Law of Associations (1980) regulates the work of civil society organisations and requires them to register with the Ministry of Justice’s Registrar of amuta (NGOs).Palestinian civil society organisations in East Jerusalem remain subject to the Israeli Law of Associations which requires them to register with and report to both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities in order to for them to operate. Still Palestinian organizations operating in East Jerusalem are being targeted by the Israeli authorities. The Agricultural Work Committee (registered in 1996 in Jerusalem by the Israeli Association registrar) is the latest victim in danger of their registration being withdrawn.
In their joint submission, PNGO, ANND and CIVICUS refer to the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, which was presented during the 34th HRC calling for an immediate end to occupation as the root cause and obstacle for the self-development of Palestinian society and an enabling environment for civil society. On the occasion of the 3rd cycle UPR review, they call all members of the Working Group to raise civic space violations committed by the Israeli occupation and call for measures to be adopted in accordance with the rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and Human Rights Council resolutions 22/6, 27/5 and 27/31.At a minimum, the following conditions should be guaranteed: freedom of association, freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, the right to operate free from unwarranted state interference, the right to communicate and cooperate, the right to seek and secure funding and the state’s duty to protect. Last but not least, all civil society organisations which have been arbitrarily and unduly sanctioned or deregistered should be immediately reinstated and all demonstrators, journalists and human rights defenders detained for exercising their right to freedom of peaceful assembly should be unconditionally and immediately released.