Palestinian Centre for Human Rights


Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR, Arabic: المركز الفلسطيني لحقوق الإنسان‎) is an independent Palestinian human rights organization based in Gaza City, founded and directed by Raji Sourani. The non-governmental organization was established in 1995 by a group of Palestinian lawyers and human rights activists and receives funding from governmental, non-governmental, and religious sources.[1]

Contents

Principles and philosophy

The Centre states on its website that its founding principles are to:[2]

  • Protect human rights and promote the rule of law in accordance with international standards.
  • Create and develop democratic institutions and an active civil society, while promoting democratic culture within Palestinian society.
  • Support all the efforts aimed at enabling the Palestinian people to exercise its inalienable rights in regard to self-determination and independence in accordance with international Law and UN resolutions.

In its philosophy statement,[3] PCHR repudiates the Oslo Accords as 'fatally flawed' and adds:

Moreover, the Oslo accords failed to address the essential elements of the Palestinian question -- the right to self-determination, the right to an independent Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem, the right of return for Palestinian refugees and the removal of Israeli settlements from the OPT. In light of this wide-ranging disregard for the human rights of the Palestinian people, the Centre resolved to continue its work to protect human rights from ongoing violations by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF).

The group has consultative and affiliative status with a number of Arab, European and United Nations' organizations and has received the 1996 French Republic Award on Human Rights and the 2002 Bruno Kreisky Award for Outstanding Achievements in the Area of Human Rights.[2] The group has repeatedly called for a ban on capital punishment in the Palestinian territories, which is supported by a majority of Palestinians.[4] The group has also released reports relating to violence in the Palestinian territories and Israel.[5][6] Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, was denied a permit to exit the Gaza Strip to attend a human rights conference in September 2008.[7]

Funding

According to the site's funding page, the following list comprises the Centre's major funding organisations:[1]

The group has received funding from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to support the establishment of a Women and Group Rights' Unit.[8]

Actions

In their report titled "Impunity for US Peace Activist's Death" that contains eyewitness testimonies for Rachel Corrie's disputable death case, on 30 June 2003, PCHR declared they have "submitted more than 1200 complaints to the Israeli occupying forces regarding human rights violations since the beginning of the current Intifada. In no case in which PCHR has submitted a complaint, has any individual in the Israeli occupying forces, security services or other persons, been prosecuted or otherwise disciplined for any act perpetrated against a Palestinian or foreign national. PCHR asserts that the State of Israel should be aware that where it fails in its specific legal obligations to conduct full and fair investigations into human rights violations, and bring those responsible to justice in accordance with international law, victims of Israeli war crimes may seek alternative judicial remedies abroad, including under the principle of universal jurisdiction." [9]

The PCHR condemned the Israeli government for allowing "Jewish settler groups to enter the yards of the al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem" and for using excessive force against Palestinians attempting to "prevent the provocative entry of settlers into the Mosque."[10]

In 2011 the PCHR criticized a decision by Hamas prohibiting a group of seven high school students from leaving Gaza in order to spend a year studying in the United States. The American nonprofit Amideast had awarded the students special scholarships for the program. A Hamas minister explained that "A 15-year-old girl cannot spend a year in America without a supervisor."[11]

2011 saw further attacks by Hamas who criticised the Centre for releasing a statement with Israeli human rights groups calling for the appropriate treatment for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. [12]

The Centre has consistenly maintained its fearless stance and has been the leader in the fight to bring Israeli alleged war criminals to justice through use of the principle of universal jurisdiction. A number of promnent international cases have been taken, including that against Maj-Gen Doron Almog in the UK. [13]

Criticism

NGO-Monitor, an Israeli NGO watchdog group, has criticized the group for its regularly demonizing Israel, support for Lawfare[14], use of Apartheid rhetoric[15] and perceived disregard of human rights abuses committed against Israeli civilians:[16]

While PCHR does an important job of describing intra-Palestinian human rights abuses, it is blatantly one-sided in its removal of the context of terror and disregard of human rights abuses committed against Israeli civilians. PCHR also supports "all the efforts aimed at enabling the Palestinian people to exercise its inalienable rights in regard to self-determination and independence," including calls for political, economic, and academic boycotts against Israel.

CAMERA, a pro-Israeli American media watch dog, has criticized the group for "favoring Hamas over Israel" and "describing Israeli military operations as "war crimes"", and has questioned the accuracy of its casualty statistics. [17]

References

  1. ^ a b Palestinian Centre for Human Rights: Funding
  2. ^ a b Palestinian Centre for Human Rights: About PCHR
  3. ^ Palestinian Centre for Human Rights: Philosophy
  4. ^ Angus Reid Global Monitor: Palestinian Majority Opposes Death Penalty
  5. ^ The Guardian: Baby among 11 dead after Hamas raids criminal gang's Gaza base
  6. ^ Palestinian News Network: "Human rights report: Israeli forces injure 10 nonviolent demonstrators and a journalist"
  7. ^ ModKraft: PCHR Director Denied Permit to Exit Gaza
  8. ^ UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: Occupied Palestinian Territories (GAZA and the West Bank)
  9. ^ Impunity for US Peace Activist's Death
  10. ^ "PCHR Condemns Israel's Granting of Permission for Settlers to Enter al-Aqsa Mosque and Use of Excessive Force against Palestinian Civilians". PCHR. http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/PressR/English/2009/104-2009.html. Retrieved 2009-09-29. 
  11. ^ Akram, Fares (19 August 2011). "No U.S. Trip for Students From Gaza, Hamas Says". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/20/world/middleeast/20gaza.html?_r=1&src=un&feedurl=http%3A%2F%2Fjson8.nytimes.com%2Fpages%2Fworld%2Fmiddleeast%2Findex.jsonp. Retrieved 21 August 2011. "The Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights criticized the decision to bar the high school students from traveling, saying it meant that 'a number of our best students will be deprived of benefiting from scholarships to study abroad while we are in a dire need to communicate with the outside world, break the isolation and blockade imposed on our people and develop our capacities.'" 
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ [2]
  14. ^ Palestinian Center for Human Rights
  15. ^ Fact Sheet: Settlements and Apartheid in the OPT
  16. ^ NGO Monitor Report: Palestinian Center for Human Rights
  17. ^ Gaza Casualties: Civilian or Combatant?

External links

Coordinates: 31°31′36.89″N 34°26′20.07″E / 31.5269139°N 34.4389083°E / 31.5269139; 34.4389083


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