Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee: security concerns do not preclude human rights obligations

08/08/2003
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The International federation for human rights (FIDH) welcomes the concluding observations issued on 7 August by the UN Human Rights Committee after it examined, from 23 to 25 of July 2003, the situation of political and civil rights in Israel with regard to the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of 1966.

The FIDH welcomes the fact that the Committee reiterates that, during an armed conflict, the applicability of the regime of international humanitarian law does not preclude the application of the international law of human rights, "including article 4 of the ICCPR which covers situations of public emergency which threaten the life of the nation", nor does it preclude accountability of States parties under article 2 of the ICCPR for the actions of their authorities outside their own territories, including the Occupied Territories.
Therefore, The FIDH cannot but support the Human Rights Committee’s decision to put forward six of the greatest violations of human rights in the region, mainly resulting from "necessary security measures".
As a matter of fact, the committee underscores that
— the use of prolonged detention without access to any lawyer violates the Covenant. Therefore, Israel should ensure that no one is held for more than 48 hours without access to a lawyer.
— what Israel calls "targeted killings" of those identified as suspected terrorists in the Occupied territories, when used as a deterrent or punishment, "raises issue under article 6 of the covenant and constitutes a violation of international law of human rights. The Committee asserts that "State policy in this respect should be spelled out in guidelines to regional military commanders, and complaints about disproportionate use of force should be investigated promptly by an independent body".
— regarding demolition of property and homes in the Occupied Territories: Israel is asked to cease forthwith this practice as it contravenes obligations of the State party relating to private property and residence and amounts to torture or cruel and inhuman treatment
— regarding interrogation techniques used by Israel’s General security Services, Israel should no longer recourse to the "necessity defense" argument which is not recognized under the Covenant; Israel should also "ensure that alleged instances of ill-treatment and torture are investigated by independent mechanisms...and that those responsible be prosecuted".
— the entry into force of the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law suspending the possibility of family reunification, especially in the cases of marriages between an Israeli citizen and a resident of the Occupied Territories, constitutes serious violations of the International law of human rights; Israel is asked to reconsider its policy with a view of facilitating family reunification of all citizens and permanent residents.
•- the international law of human rights applies to the "security fence" or "wall". Therefore, Israel is requested to stop the construction of the "Seam zone" within the Occupied Territories as it contravenes the fundamental freedom of movement guaranteed under article 12 of the ICCPR.

The FIDH is very pleased about the fact that the Human Rights Committee paid great attention to the comments provided by the NGOs for human rights that are working on these issues, on a daily basis, either in Israel or in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as well as to the reports produced by international NGOs subsequently to every mission conducted on the field.

The FIDH, while affirming once again its solidarity with the civilian population in Israel when hurt by suicide bombings and recalling that suicide-attacks constitute war crimes, nevertheless expresses its deepest concerns regarding the discriminatory and cruel treatment suffered by the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza as well as in Israel.

The FIDH cannot but strongly call the Israeli authorities to take into consideration the recommendations produced by the Committee in order to get to a real and tangible improvement in the situation of human rights in the region.

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