The Independent Commission for Human Rights Holds a Special Meeting on the Social Security Law with Participation of Officials and Specialists

Ramallah \ the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) held a special discussion on the Social Security Law, which has recently been approved, to clarify its implications and impacts on the rights of the Palestinian citizens as part of its role in promoting the system of human rights and enabling citizens to realize their economic and social rights.

ICHR's Director General, Dr. Amar Dwek, participated in the discussion alongside the Head of the National Committee of Social Security, Dr. Ahmad Magdalani, Director of Labor Relations at the Ministry of Labor, Bilal Dawaba, Chairman of the Federation of the Independent Trade Unions, Abed Al-Hakim Alian, Representative of the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, Emad Hamad, Khadija Hussin from ICHR and Munir Klebo from ILO as well as representatives of civil society organizations and private sector.

Dr. Dwek welcomed the attendees and clarified the importance of the Social Security Law in light of missing social policies.

He explained that it affects a large category of the Palestinian people and that's why ICHR, which continually monitors the legislations and policies issued by the competent authorities to ensure their consistency with the provisions of the Basic Law and international human rights conventions, invited the relevant entities to this meeting.

Dr. Dwek raised several subjects in relation to the Articles of the Law including how to apply them to the workers in the Gaza Strip and the workers inside the Green Line. He also raised the issue of guarantors of the Fund and the perspective of ILO thereto.

Dr. Magdalani briefed the participants on the different stages of the Draft Law, pointing out that the efforts to draft this law started in 2009. He confirmed that it was drafted in cooperation with partners from the ILO, civil society organizations, Federation of General Trade Unions, legal international organizations and foreign experts.

Dr. Magdalani added that the first stage of the benefits of the law includes insurance of old age, disability, death, job injuries and maternity whereas other benefits such as health insurance and unemployment would be considered at another stage.

He stressed that the law targets, in the first place, the institutions of the private sector, saying that it is binding. He said that "this Law isn't an additional burden on the shoulders of the government; contrary to that, it is a participatory fund to which the employee and the employer would contribute by a monthly rate of 7.5%, 8.5%, 1.6% for job injuries and 0.3% for maternity, respectively".

Dawaba said, for his part, that this Law is one of the best modern laws drafted in the State of Palestine in light of the dysfunction of the PLC. "It shall ensure social justice for private sector employees", he added, noting that "it shall be published in the official Gazette in no later than a month from the date of this meeting".

Member of the Executive Committee of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions, Abed Al Hakim Alian, said that the federation was excluded from the dialogue about the Law though it basically targets workers. He expressed his astonishment over some articles of the Law, calling for its reconsideration.

Attorney, Khadija, for her part, said that the aim of the Law is to protect the working class from exploitation and ensure fair distribution of wealth in addition to creating job opportunities by increasing productivity. She stressed that rights-led social security should include full coverage of all emergency states and factors that threaten persons' ability to enjoy good living standards and enable all needy people to benefit from it regardless of ethnicity, sex, color or social background.

She presented comments regarding employers' contributions, current low wage rates-based pensions, lack of procedural guarantees and absence of legislative drafting philosophy in terms of appropriate legislative environment and financial and human resources as well as judicial rules necessary for translating provisions into rights.

The participants stressed that the State should guarantee the social security fund and ensure necessary implementation mechanisms as well as fund's terms of reference since it is a public facility which should be subject to the administrative law.

In light of the comments presented by the Representative of the General Federation of the Independent Trade Unions, concerning the Articles of the Law, the issue of the Federation's Legitimacy and how it should have been represented in the meetings prior to the approval of the law was raised.