Nazareth – On August 31, 2012, the United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC) requested answers from Israel to 26 questions covering the national human rights situation, including new developments since the last meeting. Israel signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1991. Israel must respond to this “List of Issues” in the report to the HRC in 2013. The report will be used to judge Israel’s compliance with the ICCPR and will guide future HRC recommendations.
In consideration of human rights status of the Arab Palestinian minority in Israel, The Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) would like to call the attention of the HRC and the public specifically to a few of the 26 questions. The following questions, taken directly from the HRC “List of Issues”, and their answers in Israel’s 2013 report, will be critical in considering the ongoing discrimination faced by the Arab Palestinian minority and the necessity for change:
· Please provide detailed information on any significant developments in the legal and institutional framework within which human rights are promoted and protected at the national level that have taken place since the previous periodic report, including any relevant case law.
· Please provide updated information on developments aimed at ensuring the full application of the Covenant in Israel, as well as in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and in the Occupied Syrian Golan.
· Please indicate any step taken to include the principle of equality and nondiscrimination in the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, and to repeal any discriminatory laws.
· In light of the Committee’s previous concluding observations (paras. 17 and 24) and in order to guarantee minorities’ rights, especially those of Palestinians and Bedouins, please provide updated information on measures taken:
o To cease the practice of the collective punitive demolition of houses and private property
o To recognize and promote the Bedouin population’s right to ancestral land and traditional livelihood (follow-up analysis on paragraph 24, CCPR/C/105/2). In this regard, please provide detailed information on the situation of the unrecognized Arab Bedouin villages and indicate measures that have been taken to stop the demolition of houses and indicate whether the State party envisages withdrawing the 2012 proposed Law for the Regulation of the Bedouin Settlement in the Negev (Also known as the Prawer Plan)
o To ensure the Bedouin’s and Palestinians’ access to health services, education, adequate housing, water and sanitation
· What measures have been taken to ensure linguistic rights of Arab citizens of Israel?
· To provide information on steps taken to ensure:
o Equal representation of Jewish and Arab citizens in the civil service, in particular in decision-making positions
o Equality in access to education between Jewish and Arab citizens, in particular in higher education where Arab citizens still face challenges to be accepted
o The right of every citizen to participate in public life. In this regard, please comment on cases where political leadership of the Arab minority faces continued and severe attacks and harassment, including Members of Knesset
· Please provide detailed information on efforts made to end the practice ofadministrative detention and whether the State party envisages withdrawing its derogations from article 9 of the Covenant. Please also indicate any measures taken to ensure that civilians are not tried before military courts and provide information on cases of ill treatment of detainees and arbitrary detention, in particular in cases of “shabah” and beatings.
· Indicate how the State party ensures the full application of the principle of equality between women and men, in particular with respect to Israeli Arab women and women belonging to minorities
· Please provide information on legislative measures envisaged or taken to incorporate the crime of torture in the legislation in conformity with article 1 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and article 7 of the Covenant and to remove any justification of torture, including the notion of “necessity”
· Provide detailed and updated information on the progress made to review the legislation governing the state of emergency and the declaration made under article 4 of the Covenant. How does the State party refrain from using administrative detention and ensure that administrative detainees are afforded, in practice, all the fundamental safeguards, including the rights to have prompt access to a lawyer, to have an independent medical examination, to notify relatives and to receive visitors
· Please indicate any steps taken by the State party to protect the rights of religious minorities and to ensure equal and non-discriminatory access to places of worship for Christians and Muslims
· Provide detailed and updated information on the situation of human rights defenders’ freedom of association and freedom of opinion and expression and provide detailed information on the new Israeli anti-boycott law and its compliance with the right to freedom of conscience, expression and opinion. Please also provide information on the “Foreign Funding Law”, adopted on 2 March 2011 and specify what measures have been taken or are envisaged to revise these laws
· Please provide information on measures taken to revoke the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary provision) and to review the State party’s policy with a view to facilitating family reunifications for all citizens and permanent residents without discrimination… Please also provide information on steps taken to ensure the right of Israeli citizens and residents of East Jerusalem to marry or live with a Palestinian partner.
The HRA calls on Israel to make a forthright and conclusive effort in responding to the concerns we highlighted here in the report to the HRC in 2013. The State of Israel, in signing the ICCPR, is obliged to uphold international standard of human rights and humanitarian law. Accurate censure of human rights abuses within Israel is a necessary condition of upholding those standards and that is what the HRA calls on the State of Israel to do in this report. Additionally, the HRA calls on Israel to implement the ICCPR and apply it to its full intent with regards to the Arab Palestinian minority.