Archive for the 'United Nations Office of the High Commissioner forHuman Rights' Category

UNHCHR deeply concerned about deterioration of humanitarian conditions in Gaza

PRESS STATEMENT
Ravina Shamdasani: Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Israel, as the occupying power, has responsibility under international humanitarian law to ensure the well-being of the population.

Photo: Ezz Zanoun/Al Jazeera

Photo: Ezz Zanoun/Al Jazeera

Location: Geneva
Subject: Gaza

We are deeply concerned about the steady deterioration in the humanitarian conditions and the protection of human rights in Gaza.

At the height of summer, with soaring temperatures, electricity provision has not risen above six hours per day since the beginning of the current crisis in April, and has often been under four hours. This has a grave impact on the provision of essential health, water and sanitation services. Power outages threaten the life and well-being of vulnerable groups, particularly those needing urgent medical care. We have observed an increasingly dire situation for the men, women and children of Gaza amid a deepening economic crisis, coupled with continuing restrictions on movement and freedom of expression. The desperate situation has also contributed to violent crime, domestic violence, including femicides, and attempted suicides, although exact data is hard to obtain.

Israel, the State of Palestine and the authorities in Gaza are not meeting their obligations to promote and protect the rights of the residents of Gaza. Israel, as the occupying power, has responsibility under international humanitarian law to ensure the well-being of the population. Israel, the State of Palestine and the authorities in Gaza also have clear concurrent human rights obligations towards the Palestinians in Gaza. The Israeli blockade and closure continue to disproportionately affect the civilian population and must be lifted. The recent measures to decrease the provision of electricity, and to cut the salaries and order early retirement of civil servants in Gaza, are having a direct, negative impact on the social and economic rights of Gazans. The lack of transparency in the use of resources, and the continuing suppression of freedom of speech and assembly by the authorities raise further concerns for the protection of fundamental rights of the population in the Gaza Strip.

We urge Israel, the State of Palestine and the authorities in Gaza to uphold the human rights of the population in Gaza. We also call on the international community to respond to the UN’s urgent appeal for humanitarian aid, to honour pledges made to support reconstruction and development of Gaza, and to work with the parties to bring a resolution to the current crisis.

UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices to visit Amman on annual mission

PRESS RELEASE
Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights

GENEVA (11 July 2017) – A United Nations Special Committee will undertake its annual field visit to Amman from 12 to 14 July 2017 to gather testimonies and to hear briefings on a range of human rights issues of concern in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the occupied Syrian Golan.

The UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories will be meeting with victims, community representatives, witnesses, Israeli and Palestinian non-governmental organizations, officials from Palestine, and UN representatives.

As stipulated in the mandate, the Committee has sought the agreement of the Government of Israel to access the Occupied Territories. However, the Government of Israel maintains its practice of non-cooperation. Read more »

Immediate action needed as Gaza power cuts spark humanitarian crisis, UN expert warns

PRESS RELEASE
UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights

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GENEVA (15 June 2017) – The humanitarian situation in Gaza is deteriorating to unprecedented levels as new reductions in the already extremely limited power supply have been announced, a United Nations expert has warned.

Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, said the situation was “extremely distressing” and getting worse with every passing week.

“All the parties with a direct hand in the crisis – Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas – must act immediately with the best interests of the population in Gaza in mind to resolve this human-made problem,” the expert said. Read more »

UNHRC on Qatar diplomatic crisis

PRESS RELEASE
United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

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Comment by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on impact on human rights

GENEVA (14 June 2017) – “I am alarmed about the possible impact on many people’s human rights in the wake of the decision by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain to cut diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar.

It is becoming clear that the measures being adopted are overly broad in scope and implementation, and have the potential to seriously disrupt the lives of thousands of women, children and men, simply because they belong to one of the nationalities involved in the dispute. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have issued directives to address the humanitarian needs of families with joint nationalities, but it appears that these measures are not sufficiently effective to address all cases. Read more »

UN Special Rapporteur on OPT calls on Israel to comply with international law on detention

PRESS RELEASE
Office of the High Commissioner
United Nations Human Rights Council

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GENEVA (16 May 2017) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Michael Lynk, today urged Israel to comply with international law and international standards for detention.

The expert’s call comes as the ongoing hunger strike by approximately 1,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails enters its second month. They are requesting better and consistent access to health care, more liberal family visit policies, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention.

“I am particularly concerned with Israel’s use of administrative detention, which involves imprisonment without charge, trial, conviction or meaningful due process, as well as the possibility of unrestricted renewal of their detention,” the human rights expert said, highlighting that administrative detainees are imprisoned on secret evidence that neither they nor their lawyers can review or challenge.

“Israel’s use of administrative detention is not in compliance with the extremely limited circumstances in which it is allowed under international humanitarian law, and deprives detainees of basic legal safeguards guaranteed by international human rights law,” Mr. Lynk said recalling his first report to the UN General Assembly. The Rapporteur noted that there are approximately 500 Palestinian administrative detainees. Read more »

UN expert warns of deteriorating situation for human rights defenders in Palestine and Israel

PRESS RELEASE
United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

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GENEVA (21 March 2017) – Human rights defenders working to draw attention to abuses associated with Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territory are being increasingly targeted as a result of their work, according to a new report from a United Nations human rights expert.

Michael Lynk – the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 – expressed deep concerns about the shrinking space for civil society in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in a statement to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“As human rights defenders – Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals – persist with their intrepid activism to investigate and oppose the regime of human rights violations that is integral to the occupation. All indications are that they will continue to be the prime targets of those who are intolerant of their criticisms, yet alarmed by their effectiveness,” Mr. Lynk said.

The Rapporteur noted with alarm that Palestinian human rights defenders have been subjected to attacks, arrest, detention, and threats to their lives and safety. “They have experienced sophisticated interference with their vital work, and have faced toxic denunciations aimed at silencing them and discouraging their supporters,” he continued. Read more »

UN rights experts denounce Israel’s growing constraints on human rights defenders

PRESS RELEASE
Office of the High Commissioner, UN Human Rights Council

Israeli forces shower protesters in Shuhada Street with teargas and stun grenades

Israeli forces shower protesters in Shuhada Street with teargas and stun grenades

GENEVA (3 March 2017) – Two United Nations Independent Experts are calling on the Israeli Government to fully respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of human rights defenders and organizations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Michael Lynk, and the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Michel Forst, say human rights defenders in the region have been facing escalating restrictions by Israel on their activities.

“We are deeply concerned by the latest constraints on the invaluable work being done by human rights activists – Palestinian, Israeli and international – who investigate, research, advocate and peacefully mobilize with respect to human rights concerns in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” they said. Read more »

Proposed Israel law “gives green light to theft of Palestinian land” – UN expert

Press Release
United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Amona outpost. (Picture: Noam Moskowitz/Flash90)

Amona outpost. (Picture: Noam Moskowitz/Flash90)

GENEVA (21 November 2016) – A proposed Israeli law enabling the confiscation of privately owned Palestinian land would deal another severe blow to hopes of a lasting peace, a United Nations human rights expert has warned.

Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk said he was deeply concerned at the proposal to legalize more than 100 illegal outposts in the occupied West Bank, which passed its first reading in the Knesset on 16 November.

“Unauthorized outposts, most of which have been established on private Palestinian land and are located deep within the occupied West Bank are considered illegal under Israeli domestic law. Their retroactive ‘legalization’ will be another nail in the coffin for the two-state solution,” said Mr. Lynk.

“These outposts undermine the Palestinian right to self-determination, violate their rights to property, freedom of movement and development, and continue to confine the Palestinians into smaller and smaller cantons of non-contiguous lands within their own territory.” Read more »

Israel / OPT: UN women’s rights expert calls for peace process with full participation of women

UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights
Press Release

International Women's Day, Gaza 2015 (Photo: Julie Webb-Pullman

International Women’s Day, Gaza 2015 (Photo: Julie Webb-Pullman

GENEVA (26 September 2016) – Reducing violence against women and promoting gender equality are two underused tools in bridging fragmented and divided communities and achieving peace, said United Nations human rights expert Dubravka Šimonović, at the end of her first official visit* to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory/State of Palestine.

“I would like to call both sides to start a new peace process in which women would fully participate and even take the lead and in which international human rights law and humanitarian law would be applied jointly,” the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women said. Read more »

UN experts urge Israeli Knesset not to adopt pending legislation that could target critical NGOs

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights
Press Release

Mohammed El Halabi, World Vision's Area Development Programme Manager in Gaza recently detained by Israel,  meets with children displaced in the 2014 Israeli offensive during a ceasefire.

Mohammed El Halabi, World Vision’s Area Development Programme Manager in Gaza recently detained by Israel, meets with children displaced in the 2014 Israeli offensive during a ceasefire.

GENEVA (24 June 2016) – Three United Nations human rights experts today urged Israeli lawmakers not to approve the so called ‘NGO transparency bill’ that would, in effect, target non-governmental organizations that are critical of government policy. The experts expressed grave concern that the legislation would chill the speech of human rights NGOs by subjecting them to harsh penalties for violations and delegitimizing them publicly.

The stated aim of the legislation is to increase transparency by requiring NGOs that receive more than half of their funding from foreign government entities to disclose certain information, such as the names of their donors in all publications intended for or made available to the public, or in any written appeal to a public employee or public representative.

“The promotion of transparency is indeed desirable and legitimate,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye. “However, the pending legislation has the evident intent of targeting human rights and civil rights organizations, which receive a majority of their funding from foreign government entities, while leaving unaffected other organizations that nonetheless receive a substantial amount of foreign funding from individuals.”

The proposed legislation is again before the Knesset, after having passed the first reading earlier this year. The current version of the legislation appears to have removed some requirements, such as the need for representatives of qualifying NGOs to wear a special identification tag in the Knesset and in every other government building.

“By differentiating between donations from foreign political bodies and donations from other sources, the proposed legislation will likely lead some NGOs to be perceived as agents of foreign entities, regardless of how autonomously they operate,” warned the UN Special Rapporteur on the freedom of association and peaceful assembly, Maina Kiai.

“The discriminatory impact of new requirements on NGOs would result in public shaming of certain organizations, eroding the democratic character of Israeli civil society,” added the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of human rights defenders, Michel Forst.

The UN human rights experts urged members of the Knesset to withdraw the proposed legislation and uphold its international obligation to safeguard the broad and expansive right to freedom of expression guaranteed to everyone under Article 19* of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

(*) Article 19

1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.

2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.

3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:

(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order, or of public health or morals.

Check the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights here

ENDS

OHCHR concerned by Israeli collective punishment of Palestinians following Tel Aviv attack

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Press Briefing

The High Commissioner condemns the gun attack in Tel Aviv on Wednesday in which four Israelis were killed and a number were injured. This is the largest loss of Israeli life in a single attack since the current surge in violence.

We are also deeply concerned at the response of the Israeli authorities, which includes measures that may amount to prohibited collective punishment and will only increase the sense of injustice and frustration felt by Palestinians in this very tense time. The response has included the cancelling of all 83,000 permits granted to West Bank and Gaza residents to travel during Ramadan, the suspension of 204 work permits of individuals in the alleged attackers’ extended families, and the sealing off of their entire home town by the Israeli security forces.

Israel has a human rights obligation to bring those responsible to account for their crimes. And this it is doing. However the measures taken against the broader population punish not the perpetrators of the crime, but tens – maybe hundreds – of thousands of innocent Palestinians.

Comment by the Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, on the killing of a Palestinian man in Hebron

Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
PRESS RELEASE

Photo: MaanImages/Zeidan al-Sharabati

Photo: MaanImages/Zeidan al-Sharabati

GENEVA (30 March 2016) — We are extremely concerned about the apparent extra-judicial execution of a Palestinian man in the occupied West Bank on Thursday 24 March.

Two Palestinian men allegedly stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint in the Israeli-controlled area of Hebron on Thursday morning, and were both shot during the attack. A video later emerged appearing to show one of the alleged Palestinian assailants, subsequently identified as Abd al-Fatah al-Sharif, lying injured but still alive on the ground. Medical staff were shown attending to the wounded soldier, who was driven away in an ambulance, but did not appear to offer any medical assistance to Mr. al-Sharif.

The video then shows an Israeli soldier shooting Mr. al-Sharif in the head, killing him. What is particularly chilling is the way none of the 20 or so people at the scene, including medical personnel, appear to pay any attention to the wounded man while he was still alive, and also barely show any reaction in the immediate aftermath of his killing. Read more »

Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestinian Territory resigns due to continued lack of access to OPT

PRESS RELEASE
UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights

Makarim Wibisono (UN Photo/Violaine Martin)

Makarim Wibisono (UN Photo/Violaine Martin)

GENEVA (4 January 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, Makarim Wibisono, today submitted his resignation to the President of the Human Rights Council, effective as of 31 March 2016.

The independent expert expressed deep regret that, throughout his mandate, Israel failed to grant him access to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. “Unfortunately, my efforts to help improve the lives of Palestinian victims of violations under the Israeli occupation have been frustrated every step of the way,” said Mr. Wibisono.

The Special Rapporteur stressed that upon taking up the mandate in June 2014, he was assured that he would have access to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. “I took up this mandate with the understanding that Israel would grant me access, as an impartial and objective observer,” he said. Read more »

UN rights experts express deep concern about ongoing bloodletting in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

PRESS RELEASE
UN Human Rights Council Office of the High Commissioner

Abdallah Azzam Al-Shalada, 25, killed in cold blood by Israeli agents in Al Ahli Hospital, Hebron

Abdallah Azzam Al-Shalada, 25, killed in cold blood by Israeli agents in Al Ahli Hospital, Hebron

Two United Nations Special Rapporteurs today expressed grave concern over the continuing violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and Israel since the beginning of October, in which over 80 Palestinians and around 15 Israelis have reportedly been killed. In addition, thousands of Palestinians and more than 100 Israelis have been injured.

The human rights experts’ call for an end to the violence by all and strict compliance with international law comes following allegations of the killing of a Palestinian shot dead by Israeli forces during an undercover arrest operation in a Hebron hospital on Thursday last week. Further fatalities, Israeli and Palestinian, were reported last Friday and over the weekend.

“Cases of excessive use of force by Israeli forces against Palestinians, including some which appear to amount to summary executions, continue to be reported and some have been captured on video,” said the UN Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in the OPT, Makarim Wibisono, and on summary executions, Christof Heyns. Read more »

UN expert expresses grave concern at “extremely volatile situation across the Occupied Palestinian Territory”

PRESS RELEASE
UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Makarim Wibisono, expressed grave concern and deep sadness at this month’s intensification of violence across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in Gaza.

“Too many Palestinian and Israeli lives have been lost in the context of violent attacks and clashes,” Mr. Wibisono said, noting also the hundreds of injured. “In the face of growing violence, I urge Israel to exercise restraint and to recognise that all, including Palestinians, have equal right to respect for their human rights and their dignity.”

The number of reported Palestinian deaths, including children, is steadily rising. There are concerns of excessive use of force against Palestinians by Israeli security forces in the context of clashes, and cases of suspected Palestinian assailants shot and killed rather than arrested following attacks on Israelis, have been reported. Read more »

Israel’s use of administrative detention against Palestinians draws concern of UN rights office

UN News Centre

OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani. Photo: UN Multimedia

OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani. Photo: UN Multimedia

10 April 2015 – The United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR) today expressed concern by the continued and increasing use of administrative detention by Israeli authorities against Palestinians, who are being held without charge or trial, often on the basis of secret evidence, for periods of up to six months.

Briefing reporters in Geneva, OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said that detainees were also often transferred to prisons inside Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Most recently, Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Khalida Jarrar was arrested on 2 April 2015 and subsequently detained pursuant to an administrative detention order issued by an Israeli military commander in the West Bank on Sunday 5 April.

Ms. Jarrar remains in administrative detention in a prison in Israel. The order is currently under review by the Ofer Military Court in the West Bank and if confirmed, Ms. Jarrar will be subjected to six months detention, without charge or trial, renewable indefinitely.

This is not the first time Ms. Jarrar had been subject to administrative orders by the Israeli military commander in the West Bank, said Ms. Shamdasani. On 20 August 2014, Ms. Jarrar received a military order giving her 24 hours to move from Ramallah, where she lived, to the district of Jericho where her movements would be restricted for six months. On appeal, an Israeli court reduced the restriction to one month.

According to the press release, the Israeli practice of administrative detention has been condemned on numerous occasions by the UN Human Rights Office and the Human Rights Committee that oversees implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Israel has ratified.

However, as of February this year, there are reportedly 424 Palestinians held under administrative detention orders – more than double the 181 held at the same time last year, said Ms. Shamdasani.

OHCHR reiterates it call on Israel to end its practice of administrative detention and to either release without delay or to promptly charge all administrative detainees and prosecute them with all the judicial guarantees required by international human rights law, she said.

Liberty and security: Human Rights Committee clarifies limits on detention

PRESS RELEASE
UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

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GENEVA (30 October 2014) – The UN Human Rights Committee has issued an authoritative new commentary on one of the most important issues in international human rights law – when and how is it justified to deprive a person of their liberty, and what obligations do States have to avoid people being unlawfully or arbitrarily detained.

“Arbitrary detention is a profound threat to liberty and to the enjoyment of all other rights,” said Gerald Neuman, Committee member and rapporteur of the commentary which has now been adopted by the Committee. Read more »

“Lasting peace entails the exercise of self-determination by all peoples without discrimination” – UN rights expert

PRESS RELEASE
United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

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NEW YORK / GENEVA (28 October 2014) – The realization of the right of self-determination is essential to maintain local, regional and international peace and must be seen as an important conflict-prevention strategy, the United Nations Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, said on Monday. Read more »

UN expert: A drone is not a cop

PRESS RELEASE
United Nations Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights

Drone flying above Gaza City residential area

Drone flying above Gaza City residential area

A drone is not a cop – UN rights expert concerned about technologies that depersonalise the use of force

NEW YORK / GENEVA (23 October 2014) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, raised concern about the increasing use of technologies that depersonalise the use of force –including armed drones– not only on the battlefield, but also in the domestic law enforcement.

During the presentation of his report* to the UN General Assembly on the use of armed drones for law enforcement, Mr. Heyns provided examples of such technology that is for sale worldwide, to be used by the police and private security firms to control demonstrations, guard strategic buildings, and to hunt down escapees. Read more »

Gaza: Statement by Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Geneva, 23 July 2014

Human Rights Council 21st Special Session:
Human Rights Situation in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem

Boy trapped in rubble, Gaza

Boy trapped in rubble, Gaza

Mr. President,

Distinguished Members of the Human Rights Council,

Excellencies,

The situation in the occupied Gaza Strip is critical for the civilians living there and requires your urgent attention. Since Israel announced its military operation “Protective Edge” on 7 July, Gaza has been subjected to daily intensive bombardment from the air, land and sea, employing well over 2,100 air strikes alone. The hostilities have resulted in the deaths of more than 600 Palestinians, including at least 147 children and 74 women.

This is the third serious escalation of hostilities in my six years as High Commissioner. As we saw during the two previous crises in 2009 and 2012, it is innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip, including children, women, the elderly and persons with disabilities, who are suffering the most. Read more »

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