News & Activites 31 March 2016
A free Palestinian society with inherent values of justice, equality, freedom and human rights.
In its capacity as the Palestinian national and constitutional human rights institution, ICHR seeks to protect and promote human rights in accordance with Palestinian Basic Law and the international principles of human rights relying on the Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA).
The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) was established in 1993 upon a Presidential Decree issued by President Yasser Arafat in his capacity as President of the State of Palestine and chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The decree was subsequently published in the Official Gazette in 1995. ICHR commenced its activities in early 1994; the first Commissioner General was Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, who spearheaded ICHR's initial establishment.
In accordance with the Presidential Decree, the duties and responsibilities of ICHR are as follows: "to follow-up and ensure that different Palestinian laws, by-laws and regulations, and the work of various departments, agencies and institutions of the State of Palestine and the Palestine Liberation Organization meet the requirements for safeguarding human rights". The decree entrusted ICHR with the drafting of its statutes in a manner that would ensure its independence and effectiveness.
Furthermore, Article 31 of the Basic Law voted by the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in 1997, ratified in 2002 and modified in 2003 provides that: "An independent Commission for Human Rights shall be established by law, which shall specify its formation, duties and jurisdiction. The Commission shall submit its reports to the President of the National Authority and the Palestinian Legislative Council".
This law has not yet been passed by the PLC, but through its internal by-laws, mission statement and its activities, ICHR has strived to achieve its mandate, firmly committing itself to the values of democracy, good governance and respect for human rights.
In 2004, ICHR commenced work on a draft law, which was submitted to the PLC in May 2005 for discussion and approval. This draft law confirms ICHR as the National Human Rights Commission for Palestine with a core-function as an Ombudsman. The draft law provides ICHR with a broad mandate in accordance with national and international norms. It gives ICHR the authority to deal with cases of human rights violations, complaints submitted by citizens related to abuse of power, education and promotion, monitoring and general integration of human rights into Palestinian legislation and practices. The draft law also empowers ICHR to take cases to court and grants the commission access to information. In other words, the law defines the role of ICHR in protecting basic liberties and freedoms as prescribed in Palestinian Basic Law and international law.
Since December 2007, ICHR has undergone a restructuring process and developed a new structure, based on centralized planning and decentralized implementation. In this way, ICHR has accomplished clearer lines of authority, clearer job descriptions to major bodies and positions within ICHR and a clear relationship between our headquarters and regional Offices, in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.