Human Rights Committee: Review of Israel’s Fifth Periodic Report4 March 2022
On 2 and 3 March 2022, the Human Rights Committee reviewed Israel’s Fifth Periodic Report concerning the fulfilment of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). During the sessions, the Committee members raised a number of questions on issues of concern, which included:
- Israel’s failure to address the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), which flows from Israel’s position that the ICCPR does not apply extraterritorially despite international consensus to the contrary;
- Israel’s overly broad Counter-Terrorism Law of 2016 and the limited extent to which it offers due process guarantees and avenues for appeal, thus bearing the risk of stifling peaceful civic engagement;
- Relatedly, the designation of six prominent Palestinian civil society organisations as “terrorist organisations” under this Law in October 2021, based on secret evidence;
- The excessive use of force by Israel’s military and security forces against protesters, particularly in the context of demonstrations near the Gaza border fence and other parts of the oPt, as well as the absence of effective investigation and accountability mechanisms;
- The detention of Palestinian children in Israel and the oPt, in light of Israel’s obligation under international human rights law (IHRL) to respect the best interests of the child, use detention only as a last resort, and give full effect to applicable due process guarantees; and
- The failure to address structural and systematic racial discrimination, which manifests in a significant number of rules, laws and practices.
In support of the Committee’s review, the Diakonia IHL Centre submitted information on its legal analysis relating to concerns identified in the Committee’s List of Issues prior to reporting. The IHL Centre also prepared a fact sheet containing a summary of its analysis, which was shared with the Committee members immediately prior to review.
In conclusion, the IHL Centre proposes that the Human Rights Committee recommend that Israel:
- Review its legal position on the extraterritorial applicability of IHRL, in line with the common position of UN Treaty Bodies, the International Court of Justice, and other authoritative international bodies affirming Israel’s human rights obligations in the oPt;
- Review the definition of terrorism in its counter-terrorism legislation for compliance with the principle of legality and other applicable IHRL standards, and ensure effective avenues for challenging designation decisions and related consequences;
- Adopt legislation and other measures designed to prevent the harassment, intimidation, and other unjustified restrictions on human rights defenders and civil society by State actors and third parties;
- Review the rules of engagement and actual practice of its military and security forces for compliance with the strict IHRL standards applicable to law enforcement operations, and ensure effective investigations and accountability;
- Respect the absolute prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
- End practices that amount to unlawful and arbitrary deprivation of liberty, such as arrest and detention on the basis of secret evidence and holding detainees in solitary confinement; and
Crucially, respect and ensure the basic and general principle of equality and non-discrimination, fundamental to Israel’s obligations under the ICCPR.