Scales for Justice

Working towards peace and reconciliation

34th regular session of the Human Rights Council

The 34th regular session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) took place from 27 February to 23 March 2017 in the "Palais des Nations" in Geneva. Scales for Justice (S4J) attended the session and  participted in numerous meetings and panels. During this session it was a particular privilege to accompagny several members from Youth Against settlements (YAS) from Hebron/ Palestine, including HRD Issa Amro and organise meetings, statements and press conferences for them.

Ahmed Amro and Muhannad Qafaisha visited Geneva during the first week of the 34th regular session of the Human Rights Council (HRC). They assisted meetings of the HRC, spoke to representatives of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and delivered a petition calling on the UN to support re-opening the closed Shuhada Street in Hebron. They further gave presentations on the HR situation in Palestine in Lausanne and Geneva.

The petition published by CODE PINK - Women for Peace was adressed to the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres and the High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. Over 4000 people signed the call to use all of their influence and power to pressure the state of Israel to end the apartheid system of segregation in Hebron and open Shuhada Street to all people, explaining:  

For the past 23 years Shuhada Street, in the Occupied West Bank city of Hebron, has been almost entirely closed to Palestinians. Once a major thoroughfare and thriving marketplace, today Shuhada street is effectively a ghost town for Palestinians. While illegal Israeli settlers move freely and carry arms, Palestinian face an apartheid system of checkpoints, closed military zones, humiliation, arrests, vicious attacks from Israeli settlers and soldiers, and displacement from their homes. Palestinians who have managed to remain in their Shuhada Street houses have had their doors welded shut and must climb down from neighbors' roofs or use back doors to access their homes. 

Palestinian Human Rights Defender Issa Amro visited Geneva during the 4th week of the HRC. He delivered a statement during the General Debate on item 7, met with representatives from the OHCHR including with the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights and gave a press conference, organized in collaboration with the Palestinian Mission to the UN Geneva. Special thanks also go to Kurve Wustrow - Center for Training and Networking in Nonviolent Action, which supported this visit. 

Below some ot the activities in detail.

Oral statement in the Human Rights Council

On 20 March 2017 Issa Amro delivered an oral statement during the General Debate under agenda item 7 on behalf of the International Youth and Student Movement to the United Nations (ISMUN). In his statement Issa Amro said:

Mr President, My name is Issa Amro and I am a Human Rights Defender from Hebron, Occupied Palestine, where Israel perpetrates a racist system of apartheid, that violates our human rights on all levels.In our city, the Israeli military has imposed 100 movement barriers and 20 checkpoints on Palestinians, because of over 600 Israeli settlers who illegally live there. These settlers are guarded 24/7 by heavily armed soldiers who systematically humiliate, mistreat, injure and kill us. Meanwhile, the settlers are allowed to attack us. We face increasing restrictions and the situation is getting worse every day. We are still waiting for protection from the international community.

All Palestinians live under Israeli military law and are considered guilty until proven innocent, for simply living our lives. Meanwhile, settlers receive full legal protection. Israel uses its military court system to silence our voices and prevent nonviolent work to claim our human rights. For example, I am facing 18 false charges because of my peaceful human rights advocacy. If convicted, I will soon become a prisoner of conscience.

I call on this council to use all its influence to stop this heinous abuse of power and to pressure Israel to drop the charges against me and my colleague Farid Al Atrash. Finally, in the name of truth, justice, and equality, I call on this Council to take swift action to end Israel’s 50 years of violent occupation. Since the Nakba 70 years ago, Palestinians have been living under military, political and economic control. We only ask, as humans, for our self-determination and freedom.

The full statement statement (chapter 38) can be seen here

Meetings and events

On 21 March 2017 Issa Amro held a number of meetings, the first of who with the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kate Gilmore. During this meeting he gave an overview about the situation in Hebron and the activities of Youth Against Settlements (YAS). He then adressed the reprisals by Israel against his friend Farid al Atrash and himself. Issa Amro is currently facing a trial on 18 trumped-up charges dating back to 2010, that puts him under imminent risk of imprisonment with the clear aim to end his HR activities. The Deputy High Commissioner expressed herself very concerned and assured Issa Amro of the full support of her office.

Later Issa Amro met with the EAPPI office in Geneva and held a skype conference with UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine, Michael Lynk. In collaboration with the Palestinian Mission he then gave a press conference at the UN, during which he spoke about the situation in Hebron and the reprisals he is facing as Human Rights Defender, calling for support by the international community.

If you are a Human Rights Defender and facing reprisals, please send a message to