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Defending Human Rights
Israel for the most part permitted human rights organizations to collect and disseminate information in the areas under its control, but closures often kept Palestinian human rights workers and lawyers, including those with Israeli citizenship or Jerusalem identity cards, from traveling freely within the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Israel. Palestinians who had been previously detained or served sentences were also refused access to prisons and detainees.

Sha’wan Jabarin, fieldwork coordinator at the Ramallah-based al-Haq, was released from administrative detention on January 25 after being held two years without charge or trial.

The PA allowed human rights groups to operate in the areas under its jurisdiction, but their legal status remained unclear. As of mid-October President ‘Arafat had not signed the draft law regulating nongovernmental organizations submitted to him on August 19. The two bodies with the clearest mandate to investigate human rights abuses, the Palestinian Independent Commission on Civil Rights, created by a presidential decree in 1994, and the Palestinian Legislative Council, continued to face difficulties investigating complaints.

On August 25 security forces violently dispersed a demonstration by human rights groups protesting the house arrest of the ‘Awadallah family after ‘Imad Awadallah’s escape from custody (see above). The family was prevented from leaving the house or receiving visitors. According to LAW, security forces assaulted Palestinian Legislative Council members and journalists, and at least one person was hospitalized. Legislative Council members who attempted to visit the family the following day were also assaulted, and two more persons hospitalized. On August 31 the council created a committee to investigate the attack, charging that the PA’s response was inadequate.

The PA denied human rights activists and lawyers regular access to prisons and detainees and sometimes detained or threatened activists who criticized the PA. Lawyer Ahmad Yasin was detained on September 2 on a charge of obstructing justice after the magazine “Peoples’ Rights” published his account of police ill-treatment of himself and his client. In March security forces detained Shawqi ‘Issa and Samih Muhsin of LAW incommunicado for eleven hours following publication of an article critical of Police Chief Ghazi al-Jabali in the same magazine. They were asked to sign a pledge not to criticize the PA, which they refused.







Israel, The Occupied West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Palestinian Authority Territories

Saudi Arabia





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