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Arab League: Improve Regional Court Proposal

Draft Would Bar Victims from Filing Rights Complaints

(Beirut) – A proposed Arab League regional court for human rights would deny victims the right to file complaints, 27 regional and international organizations including Human Rights Watch said today in a statement of concern.

The current draft statute for the court would not permit individuals whose rights have been violated to file complaints directly to the court, and the court’s proposed rules on selection of judges fall short of international standards, the groups said.

“This draft deliberately makes impossible the most important purposes of a human rights court – insuring individuals access to justice and imposing accountability on abusive governments,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “The Arab world is in dire need of effective institutions that protect human rights, not another regional institution that merely accommodates the region’s rulers.”

The Arab League’s secretary general, Nabil Al-Arabi, announced at a conference in Bahrain on May 25, 2014, that the draft would be submitted for the approval of the League’s Ministerial Council in its next meeting, expected in September.

The organizations urged the Arab League member states to amend the draft statute to bring it in line with international standards and to allow for appropriate and meaningful consultation with nongovernmental organizations before adopting the statute. The draft provision denying individuals the right to file complaints stands in contrast to other regional human rights courts, such as the European Court of Human Rights and the African Court, which allow such complaints.

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