News & Activites 14 February 2018
ICHR welcomes the issuance of Law by Decree No. (10) 2018 on electronic crimes and introduces a series of observations and reservations
Following the issuance of Law by Decree No. (10) for 2018 on electronic crimes on 29/04/2018, published in the special issue No. (16) of the official Palestinian Gazette on 3/5/2018, the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) welcomes the response of the government to an important portion of the recommendations and observations raised by ICHR, the Journalists Syndicate and civil society organizations on Electronic Crimes Law No. 16 for 2017. The Commission’s observations included cancellation of general and ‘loose’ texts in the new law and alleviation of criminal penalties, two of the key objections of ICHR and civil society organizations on the previous Law by Decree. At the same time, the Commission still has several reservations and sees the need to continue the dialogue on additional amendments, in compliance with the right to privacy and respect of private life. The desired amendments should also guarantee freedom of opinion and expression, in a way that enhances citizens’ rights and fundamental freedoms, in accordance with the Basic Law and obligations of the State of Palestine at the international level.
The Commission previously expressed its deep concern on the issuance of the electronic crimes Law by Decree for 2017, because it comprised provisions that constitute a real dangerous threat and breach of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, right to privacy and the inviolability of citizens’ private life. Moreover, ICHR monitored several violations that resulted from this law which was issued in July 2017, such as arresting, summoning and prosecuting journalists, activists and citizens on the basis of expression of opinion or journalistic work. Back then, ICHR called for a substantial amendment of the Law. The government responded positively by forming a committee for dialogue with the different parties, including ICHR, Journalists Syndicate and civil society organizations. The Commission participated in several sessions of the dialogue with official institutes in order to achieve the desired amendments on the law, in a way that creates a balance between combating electronic crimes and protecting the rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens.
While the Commission welcomes the government’s response to several of its recommendations, there are still some issues of concern for the Commission that need to be addressed, mainly regarding privacy, freedom of opinion and expression. The attached legal memo explains the main observations of the Commission on the new law.
Legal Memo on the New Decree-Law
Decree-Law No. (10) for 2018 on Electronic Crimes
In commitment to its role as mentioned in the amended Basic Law for 2003 and its amendments, and in Presidential Decree No. (59) for 1994, to monitor national policies and legislations to ensure their compliance with the Basic Law and with international human rights conventions to which the State of Palestine has adhered, the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) has carefully followed-up all the events, procedures and reactions that followed the issuance of Decree-Law No. (16) for the year 2017 regarding electronic crimes, issued in July 2017. The Commission expressed its deep concern on the issuance of the electronic crimes law, because it comprised provisions that constitute a dangerous threat and breach of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, right to privacy and the inviolability of citizens’ private life. The Commission, together with civil society organizations, requested the amendment of the law in a way that enhances citizens’ rights and fundamental freedoms, in compliance with the Basic Law and the State of Palestine’s obligations at the international level. In this context, the Commission participated in several discussions with official institutions for the purpose of accomplishing substantial amendments on the Decree-Law in a way that creates a balance between combating electronic crimes and protecting the rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens.
The Commission re-expresses its gratitude towards official institutions for their readiness to engage in dialogue with it and with civil society organizations on the Decree-Law. The Commission appreciates the acceptance of numerous of its recommendations, particularly cancelling the general and ‘loose’ texts in the new law, and alleviating punishments, which were two of the main objections by ICHR and civil society organizations on the previous Decree-Law. Nevertheless, the Commission, in commitment to its abovementioned responsibility and role, wishes to introduce before the Palestinian public opinion a series of observations regarding this Decree-Law. These observations were previously delivered to the government during the development of the draft law. The Commission regrets that these observations were not taken into consideration in the copy of the law published in the Palestinian Gazette. Having published these observations to the public, ICHR hopes that there will be response to them, to enhance citizens’ rights and freedoms, and to implement the obligations of the State of Palestine to international human rights treaties. ICHR is ready to engage in dialogue with official and competent organizations to develop a modern law on electronic crimes that shall protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Following, we highlight the main observations on the provisions of the Decree-Law, which if not reconsidered or reviewed, could lead to serious breaches of human rights and fundamental freedoms. We stress here that ICHR continues to express its reservation about continuing and expanding the issuance of lawful resolutions in the absence of the legislative council.