Human rights organisations call for holding to account perpetrators of attacks on peaceful assemblies and warn of a breakdown of the human rights situation

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On Sunday, 27 June 2021, Palestinian human rights groups held an emergency meeting at Al-Haq in the aftermath of attacks by Palestinian security agencies on participants in peaceful assemblies organised over recent days in the city centre of Ramallah. Protestors expressed their open condemnation of the murder of political activist Nizar Banat, while he was being arrested by security services.

Human rights organisations denounce assaults by uniformed and non-uniformed security personnel on participants in recent peaceful assemblies. Using excessive force, security officers beat with batons, stoned, and dragged protestors along the ground. They fired tear gas canisters intensively while civilians were in the city centre. Attacks affected journalists, who were beaten and had their equipment seized. Security personnel obstructed the work, and confiscated mobile telephones of, field researchers at human rights institutions.

Human rights actors warn against security repression approach towards citizens’ right to freedom of peaceful assembly, enshrined in Palestinian legislation and fundamental international conventions on human rights. Human rights groups also alert of the presence of non-uniformed personnel, who assaulted participants in peaceful assemblies. Meanwhile, uniformed security officers did not intervene to protect and stop aggression on these participants. Human rights institutions further warn of allowing certain parties, while preventing others, from organising peaceful assemblies, sowing the seeds of grave discrimination among citizens.

Human rights groups underline that the rights to freedom of peace assembly and expression must be respected as constitutional rights, ensured by the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights conventions, which the State of Palestine acceded to. Abuse of these rights reflects a constitutional crime, provided by the Basic Law. It also involves a grave breach of the Palestine’s obligations arising from accession to international conventions. This requires that all persons who contributed to and perpetrated these crimes be held to account. Human rights actors emphasise that elections are the way out of the current crisis. Elections will ensure political participation, rehabilitate political institutions, promote the values and norms of good governance, and uphold the principles of the rule of law and separation of powers. To this effect, a decree needs to be issued on holding legislative, presidential, and Palestinian National Council elections immediately.

Human rights actors reaffirm their role in monitoring all violations of citizens’ rights and freedoms. The executive power takes legal and national responsibility for the serious decline in the situation of human rights and freedoms. Human rights groups have established an emergency committee to follow up on the consequences of recent events and examine all options and tools furnished by national and international mechanisms for the protection of human rights and freedoms.