The Independent Commission for Human Rights Resumes its Visits to Prisons and Detention Centers in the Gaza Strip

22 October 2012

Gaza / The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) "Office of the Ombudsman" concluded its three-day visit to the Gaza Strip during which ICHR's Delegation consisting of the Commissioner-General, Dr. Ahmad Harb, Deputy Commissioner General Advocate Zeinab al-Ghuneimi, Commissioners Dr. Iyad Al-Saraj and Mr. Issam Younes, the Executive Director, Ms. Randa Siniora, and ICHR's staff in the Gaza Strip. The delegation met with a number of government officials in the Gaza Strip, including Dr. Mahmoud Zahar, a leader of the Hamas Movement, a number of Hamas leaders, members of Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) from Reform and Change Block, and civil society organizations in the Gaza Strip.

These meetings aimed at enabling ICHR to fully conduct its work in the Gaza Strip in accordance with its mandate as the Palestinian independent national institution for human rights, responsible for following up and ensuring the protection and promotion of human rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These tasks include inter-alia, monitoring, documentation and reporting on human rights situation, the provision of advice and legal consultation, the implementation of awareness and training programs for the law enforcement officials, conducting visits to the detention centers, receiving and responding to citizens' complaints concerning violations of their rights, the issuance of special reports on the status of rights and public freedoms. Upon this visit, ICHR has finally reached to agreements with the government of Gaza which will enable it to resume its visits to prisons and detention centers after over a four-year prevention form conducting visits to the Internal Security Detention Headquarters, and over two years prevention of visiting the Gaza Central Prison.

ICHR's delegation conducted an exploratory visit to some detention centers, including the Internal Security Detention Headquarters in Gaza City, Gaza Reform and Rehabilitation Center "al-Katiba". During the visit, ICHR's delegation was briefed on the situation of detainees and their conditions of detention and listened to their demands, inquiring about the nature of their treatment during detention and interrogation in prisons.

ICHR's Commissioner General, Dr. Harb, confirmed that the goal of the visit is to stand closely on the status of human rights in the Gaza Strip and to enable the Commission to carry out its work in accordance with its mandate to monitor, protect and promote human rights in Palestine, to ensure proper legal procedures during arrest and detention. He said that respect for the rights and public freedoms of the Palestinian people under the rule of law in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip is the right track towards the achievement of Palestinian reconciliation and bringing an end to arbitrary arrests under the pretext of political affiliation. It should be noted that after this visit, a group of Fateh political prisoners who were held at the Internal Security in Gaza were released.

The Commissioner-General had also met with Dr. Ahmad Bahar, Vice President of the PLC, to discuss ways to promote and respect the status of human rights and the role that the PLC should play in monitoring the performance of the Executive Authority. The Commissioner General explained that the PLC is a reference to the Commission's work, and therefore, it presents its annual report to the President and the PLC. ICHR also deals with all PLC members as members who were elected by the people and they represent all our people and not just the block to which they belong.

For his part, Dr. Bahar stressed that the purpose of the PLC is to serve the Palestinian citizen and to ensure the availability of peace and security for all citizens without discrimination, praising ICHR's work and efforts in protecting and promoting human rights.

In light of this visit, the Commission will resume its regular visits to the detention centers and perform all its other tasks in Gaza Strip in accordance with its mandate as the Palestinian independent institution for human rights.