UN Human Rights Committee: Israel Violates Almost Every Article of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
On Friday, 31 July 1998, the UN Human Rights Committee, in Geneva, published its concluding observations on Israel's implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The Committee indicated its deep concern that in the first report submitted by the Israeli government, Israel denied its responsibility to fully apply the Covenant in the Occupied Territories.
As is customary among human rights organizations worldwide, B'Tselem submitted a report critiquing the government's report. The Committee's conclusions were clearly based on B'Tselem's report, which, contrary to Israel's report, addressed human rights in the Occupied Territories and detailed the articles of the Covenant that Israel violates there.
The UN Committee expressed its regret and deep concern, and even deplored many actions of Israel, both in Israel and in the Occupied Territories.
As regards the Occupied Territories, the Committee made the following conclusions:
- The Committee is concerned about the number of Palestinians, some of them children, who have
been killed by the security forces. These deaths have resulted, in part, from the use of rubber-coated metal bullets to disperse demonstrations. Also, the Committee is concerned about all the persons who have been victims of terrorist attacks.
- In the opinion of the Committee, handcuffing, hooding, shaking, and sleep deprivation, whose use during interrogations the Israeli delegation admitted to the Committee, constitute a breach of article 7 of the Covenant, which prohibits torture and any other form of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. The Committee is concerned about the use of administrative detention for extended periods. This application of administrative detention is incompatible with several articles of the Covenant, among them Article 7, which prohibits, as noted above, the use of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. The Committee is specifically concerned about the administrative detention of some Lebanese persons who are held as bargaining-chips, and do not threaten State security.
- The Committee is concerned that Palestinians in the Occupied Territories do not enjoy the same rights and freedoms as Jewish settlers in those territories, in particular in regard to planning and building permits and access to land and water.
- The Committee is concerned about the policy on land expropriation and Jewish settlements in the
Occupied Territories. The Committee regrets the introduction by the Government of a draft law that would deny the right of
compensation for excesses committed by members of the security forces against Palestinian residents of
the Occupied Territories./>
- The Committee regrets the continued impediments posed on movement of Palestinians between and
within East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, resulting from the closure policy, which have grave
consequences affecting nearly all areas of Palestinian life.
In regard to Palestinians residing in East Jerusalem, the Committee is concerned that the increasingly
restrictive conditions for maintaining the right to permanent residency, the denial of requests for family
reunification, and the difficulty in obtaining building permits have resulted in increasing numbers of persons
being forced to move to the Occupied Territories.
The Committee deplores the demolition of houses as a means of punishment, demolition of "illegally"
constructed houses, and the difficulties imposed on Palestinian families seeking to obtain legitimate
B'Tselem's executive director, Eitan Felner, who appeared before the Committee and briefed its members on the
human rights situation in the Occupied Territories, notes that, "The Committee's conclusions clearly indicate that, as
regards the Occupied Territories, Israel violates almost every article of the Covenant. How can Israel profess to be
the only democracy in the Middle East while it violates the fundamental human rights of an entire people?"/>/>/>
The UN Human Rights Committee is composed of eighteen experts, who are elected by the State Parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Committee's task is to supervise implementation by the State Parties of their undertakings pursuant to the Covenant. The experts act independently, according to their individual discretion, and do not represent their governments.
Israel ratified the Covenant in 1991. On 15-16 July 1998, Israel submitted before the Committee its initial report on its implementation of the Covenant. At its sixty-third session, the Committee considered reports by Algeria, Ecuador, Israel, Italy, Macedonia, and Tanzania.