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Al-Haq's report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child on the initial report submitted by the State of Palestine
15، Feb 2020
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The State of Palestine did not submit its report on time and has not submitted its common core document. There is a continuous rift in the political system, a continued deterioration of the judicial system, including the Palestinian Supreme Constitutional Court. The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) has also been stripped from legislative power since 2007. In addition, the Supreme Constitutional Court dissolved the PLC through an unconstitutional decision rendered on 12 December 2017.

There is a grave deterioration in the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), mainly due to the spreading violations committed by Palestinian actors, including the Palestinian Executive Authority and its apparatuses, and their interference with Palestinian legislation and public policy. This is coupled  the lack of transparency, monopoly over, and lack of community participation in decision-making, in addition to absence of accountability and effective remedies available for victims of human rights violations.  Moreover, there is a need for serious reforms within the Palestinian political system. In particular, it is imperative and urgent to have a presidential decree calling for general and simultaneous presidential and legislative elections in the OPT,  including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. 

To this date, no presidential decree has yet been issued in this regard, despite the preparedness of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission, and the affirmation given by president Mahmoud Abba to carry out the elections, in addition to the consensus reached by both acting authorities in the West Bank the Gaza Strip on the urgency to hold the elections. Failure to hold presidential and legislative elections has a major adverse impact on the State party’s ability to fulfil the rights enshrined in the Convention.

According to a decision by the Palestinian Supreme Constitutional Court, the Convention, and other international treaties to which the State of Palestine has acceded, are not yet in effect in the OPT. The Court’s decision also affirms that publishing the Convention in the Palestinian Official Gazette is not sufficient for the Convention to come into force. The Court’s decisions in this regard were met with strong opposition from civil society organisations across the OPT. Meanwhile, laws and public policies issued in the West Bank in relation to children’s rights, are only applied in the West Bank, but not in the Gaza Strip, and vice versa. Moreover, there is an absence of a comprehensive, unified, and rights-based national strategy that is in line with the general national budget and development goals, and which ensures the participation of children, youth, and persons with disabilities, to guarantee the protection of their rights under the Convention.

The State has not put in place sufficient criteria to ensure the best interests of the child. There is also a lack of public awareness relevant to the rights of the child, including with respect to custody. The state has also failed to genuinely involve children in determining their best interests. The State must issue regulations aimed towards enforcing laws related to children’s rights. The State must also adopt new laws relevant to personal status, legal sanctions, and the protection of women from violence, in line with international conventions and standards. Al-Haq notes that the 2019 Law by Decree on determining the marriage age violates the rights of women and children protected under various international treaties. Furthermore, there are serious challenges facing the juvenile justice system and alternative care institutions (Dar Al Amal institution) in the OPT, which must be immediately addressed. Human rights defenders, including children, continue to be arbitrarily arrested and continue to face human rights violations on a regular basis. Other violations include those relevant to the registration of children immediately after birth, as well as the exploitation of children. Palestinian refugee children continue to suffer the prolonged denial of their inalienable rights, in particular their right of return to their homes and property as part of the collective right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.