State of Palestine: The Palestinian authorities must rein in security forces, allow peaceful protests  

25 July 2018, 17:55 UTC

With protests against sanctions imposed by West Bank based Palestinian authorities on Gaza set to take place in Ramallah tonight, Amnesty International is calling on the Palestinian authorities to exercise restraint and respect human rights, including the right to peaceful protest.  

At least 52 demonstrators and bystanders were arbitrarily arrested and beaten during a similar demonstration in Ramallah on 13 June 2018. Among them was Amnesty International campaigner Laith Abu Zeyad, who was detained for several hours and beaten by the authorities.

“The Palestinian authorities have an obligation to uphold the rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly.  Palestinians, whose rights that have been routinely crushed by Israel’s occupation, must not be brutalised and repressed by their own government. There must be no repeat of the arbitrary and abusive force we have seen from the Palestinian security forces during recent demonstrations,” said Saleh Higazi, Head of Office in Jerusalem for Amnesty International.

“The State of Palestine is a party to the main international human rights treaties, and as such the authorities are obligated to uphold human rights, including the rights to liberty and security of person, freedom of expression and assembly, and the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment. They are also duty bound to investigate and remedy any violations of these rights.”

Over the past two months, a group of Palestinian activists have been campaigning for the Palestinian authorities to lift their sanctions on Gaza. According to the organizers, these sanctions include cutting the wages of over 63,000 government employees, refusing to pay Gaza's electricity bill, ending all spending on government functions in Gaza, and severely limiting support to Gaza's healthcare ministry and system, including decreasing permits for patients to leave the Gaza Strip for treatment elsewhere.

Demonstrations were held throughout last month and as recently as last week. On 13 June West Bank-based security forces quashed a demonstration and used excessive force, arbitrary detention and torture against peaceful demonstrators and bystanders.

There has been no indication that the Palestinian authorities have taken any measures to ensure accountability or investigate any violations thus far.

“The Palestinian authorities must ensure that the security forces’ refrain from using unnecessary or excessive force. Anyone suspected of responsibility for arbitrary or abusive use of force must be prosecuted in a fair trial,” said Saleh Higazi.