Israel / Occupied Territories / Palestinian Authority
"DEVELOPING A HUMAN RIGHTS AGENDA FOR PEACE"
Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable
rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom,
justice and peace in the world. [Preamble of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights]
Amnesty International calls unreservedly for the full enjoyment of the
human rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for all
A major flaw of the process which began with the Oslo Agreement of 1993
was that peace was not founded on ensuring respect and protection for
The past months have shown more clearly than ever that if human rights
are sacrificed in the search for peace and security there will be no
peace and no security. Even if the human rights agenda is not the only
answer, it must be part of the solution.
Many of the abuses of human rights which have taken place over the past
years have even been carried out in the name of "peace". But the
suppression of human rights has also been a catalyst in encouraging and
facilitating human rights abuses by those who oppose the peace process.
The failure to uphold people=s basic rights feeds hatred and perpetuates
abuses. All those in a position of authority must recognize that the
right to life, physical and mental integrity, freedom from arbitrary
detention, freedom of movement, freedom of expression and freedom from
fear and want are the inalienable rights of both Israelis and
Palestinians. The human rights of one individual can not be founded on
the loss of rights of another individual.
Amnesty International underlined the need to base peace on the human
rights enshrined in UN human rights standards during visits to Israel
and the Palestine Liberation Organization in Tunis immediately after the
Oslo Agreement of September 1993. Since then, Amnesty International has
continued to deliver this message.
Now the organization is calling again for human rights to be put at
heart of the agenda for peace. We call for the human rights agenda to
form the basis of discussions within Israeli and Palestinian civil
society so that the Israeli and Palestinian people themselves accept and
define the human rights principles on which peace must be founded. The
rights outlined below are among those enshrined in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. This list of rights is based on Amnesty
International's specific human rights mandate; the list is neither
definitive nor final: others will have their own list. But what is
important is that universal human rights standards should be the
benchmark of a peace which reflects respect for human rights, mutual
respect, and the dignity and worth of each person.
These are some of the fundamental human rights whose respect and
protection must be enshrined in any future agreement.
1. Everybody has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Extrajudicial executions, suicide bombings or other attacks against
civilians, excessive lethal force and targeting of residential areas
have violated the right to life of hundreds. The life of each individual
must be protected. The authorities must prohibit unlawful killings.
Opposition groups must equally not carry out unlawful killings. Every
killing must be investigated and the perpetrators of any unlawful
killing should be brought to justice in fair trials. The Palestinian
Authority should abolish the death penalty.
2. No one should be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment. Torture and police brutality has been
frequent both in Israel and under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian
Authority. Torture, brutality by the security forces, and all other
cruel treatment or punishment should be eradicated; any cases of torture
or ill-treatment should be immediately independently and thoroughly
investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice in fair trials.
Incommunicado detention should be ended and all detainees should have
prompt access to lawyers and family.
3. No one should be subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention. In
Israel detainees have been held without charge or fair trial in
administrative detention; under the Palestinian Authority hundreds have
been held without charge or trial even after the Palestinian High Court
of Justice has ordered their release. Such arbitrary detention has often
been carried out in the name of the fight against "terrorism". All
political prisoners held without charge or trial should be tried in fair
trials or immediately released.
4. Everyone has the right to a fair trial. In Israel the trials of
Palestinians in military courts have diminished defendants' rights to
fair trials. Under the Palestinian Authority the State Security Court
hands down sentences in summary trials in flagrant violation of fair
trial rights. Palestinian military courts have also held unfair trials.
Laws and practice in Israel, the Occupied Territories and the
Palestinian Authority must ensure respect for the right to fair trial as
enshrined in international human rights standards.
5. All persons are free and equal in dignity and rights. There should
no distinction or discrimination against anyone on the grounds of ethnic
origin, religion, sex or other status in the enjoyment of human rights
and freedoms. Discriminatory laws and practices should be abolished
including those which have caused the destruction of Palestinian houses
6. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement. The past seven years
have witnessed profound and flagrant denials of the right to freedom of
movement. The closures are a grave human rights violation targeted
against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. The occupied
territories have become a land of barriers between town and town and
between village and village. Palestinian towns and villages have been
cut off from the outside world for days and often weeks; trenches have
been dug round Jericho and Ramallah. The great majority of the
inhabitants of Gaza have been enclosed for years as though in a prison
and Palestinians from the Occupied Territories are unable to enter
Jerusalem without a permit. Even those seeking medical treatment have
frequently been barred entry. The Israeli Government denies entry to
Gaza to its own citizens. These barriers to free movement should now be
7. Everyone has the right to return to his or her country. The right
return is an individual human right which cannot be given away as a
political concession. Palestinians in exile should be given the choice
to exercise such a right and return to Israel, the West Bank or Gaza
Strip as appropriate. Palestinians should also be allowed to choose
other durable solutions, such as integration in their host country or
resettlement in a third country. Those who choose not to return are
entitled to compensation. Those returning should also receive
compensation for lost property. The same rights relating to return and
compensation should also be given to Israelis who fled or were forced
out of Arab and other countries.
8. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, opinion and expression.
Under the Palestinian Authority critics of the authority or the peace
process have been harassed, arrested and imprisoned, often without
charge or trial. The Israeli authorities have restricted the movement of
human rights activists and journalists have been shot at. Peaceful
expression of ideas and opinions which does not constitute advocacy of
violence, hatred, slander or libel should be guaranteed and any person
detained solely for the expression of conscientiously held beliefs
should be released immediately and unconditionally.
9.Women have the right to full equality. The freedom of women is limited
by discriminatory codes and practice. Equality of women should be
enshrined in law and practice.
10. There should be no impunity for human rights abuses. Allegations
human rights abuses should be promptly, impartially and thoroughly
investigated and perpetrators brought to justice in fair proceedings.
All human rights are interdependent and indivisible and universal. In
accordance with its mandate, Amnesty International takes action against
some of the gravest violations by governments of peoples civil and
political rights. Amnesty International also promotes the observance of
all human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
and other international standards, including economic, social and
Source: Amnesty International, International Secretariat, 1 Easton
Street, WC1X 8DJ, London, United Kingdom