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05/01/2017

Middle East peace effort lacks progress on political front – UN reports

The lack of progress in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is impeding Palestine's development, according to a new United Nations report, which also reiterates the international community's commitment to a two-state solution in the region.
The report, issued by the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO), notes that “despite a number of international efforts over the past six months to advance the two-state solution, last year has been characterized by a continued lack of progress on the political front.”
In contrast to recommendations outlined in the July 2016 report by the Middle East Quartet, there has been “a surge in Israeli settlement-related activity and a continued high rate of demolitions in Palestinian and Bedouin communities” as well as “continuing acts of violence against civilians, signs of a deepening political rift between Gaza and the West Bank, and continued military build-up and firing of rockets by extremist groups in Gaza.”
This environment threatens the erosion of the achievements of the Palestinian state building effort, according to the report.
“The institutions of Palestinian governance remain vulnerable to political instability and require affirmative steps to protect and advance state-building efforts,” the authors wrote.
The report also notes a “deepening political rift” between Gaza and the West Bank. Tensions between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are aggravating a “difficult situation in the Gaza Strip” with an intra-Palestinian disagreement over issues such as electricity access and payment of salaries.
Analysing the impact of the Hamas take-over ten years ago and the ensuing Israeli closures and conflicts, the report notes that “Gaza is facing a downward spiral of de-development, while the people in Gaza are caught in a cycle of humanitarian need and perpetual aid dependency.”
The report covers the period from 15 September 2016 to 15 April 2017.
It will be presented to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) at its bi-annual meeting in Brussels on 4 May. The Committee, chaired by Norway and co-sponsored by the European Union and the United States, serves as the principal policy-level coordination mechanism for development assistance to the Occupied Palestinian Territory.



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Scales for Justice updates

NGOs join forces in support of Palestinian HRD Issa Amro

On 29 June 2017 several NGOs including the former UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine, Richard Falk, Scales for Justice (S4J) have sent a joint urgent appeal to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mr. Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, calling to protect Palestinian HRD Issa Amro, who is facing trial on trumped-up charges on 9 July 2017. Read the full letter here

34th regular session of the UN Human rights Council

The 34th regular session of the Human Rights Council 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 prominent HRD Issa Amro. See more here

EU HRD Abdallah Abu Rahma targeted again

Several NGOs have urged the UN to take action on behalf of Palestinian HRD Abdallah Abu Rahma, who was arbitrarily arrested inside a military court room on 24 January 2017. Following the arrest, Abdallah Abu Rahma was held in arbitrary detention and only released late evening of 25 January 2017. The night following his release (25/ 26 January 2017) his and his brother's house were raided and Abdallah Abu Rahma’s computer confiscated. Read the full letter here

 The UN must take a firm stand for HRD in Egypt

The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) and Scales for Justice (S4J) have called on several UN special prcedures and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to take a firm stand on behalf of Human Rights Defender Dr. Eng. Ahmed Abdallah, Board Director of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF), who is under preventive detention by the Egyptian authorities after being arrested from his home 25 April 2016 at 4:00 AM. His arrest comes amid a sweep of more than 300 arrests in Cairo, Alexandria and other governorates, during which Egyptian security forces have arrested several human rights defenders and transferred them to different police stations. If brought to trial Ahmed Abdallah might face long-term imprisonment or death sentence. Read the full article here

New wave of reprisals against Youth Against Settlements

On 18 December 2015 several United Nations independent experts expressed grave concern at continued reports that human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in Hebron, are being subjected to physical attacks and death threats,  denounced such harassment as “unacceptable” and called for it to end immediately. They further urged Israeli authorities to lift the military closure of the Youth Against Settlements center in Hebron. The press release is the result of tireless efforts by S4J, that over the past months S4J has been in constant touch with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) regarding this case and urged for a strong reaction. Read the full article here.

30th session of the HRC

The 30th regular session of the HRC took place from 14 September to 2 October 2015 in The "Palais des Nations" in Geneva. S4J actively participated in the session and contributed through a number of presentations. It was further a special honor  to welcome and accompany human rights defender Issa Amro from Hebron, Palestine, who held an oral statement under agenda item 7 of the Council's agenda and for whom S4J organized and a number of panels and meetings. Read the full report here.

S4J meets Lina Khattab

On 6  August 2015, several weeks after her release, S4J met 18-year old Lina Khattab in her home in Ramallah. Lina  had been arrested in the context of a protest near Ofer on 13 December 2014 and held in prison inside Israel for almost 6 months. S4J had followed her case with great concern as there was strong suspicion for the sentence to be arbitrary and had sent an urgent appeal to several UN Special Procedures on her behalf. Although S4J was glad to see Lina free, we were still disturbed to hear her testimony. Read the full report here

29th session of the HRC

The 29th regular session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) began on 15 June 2015. S4J actively participated in several panels organized at the UN. During these meetings S4J adressed the issue of occupation in the context of the right to self-determination as well as the general pattern of colonialism. Read the full article here.



Scales for Justice (S4J) is a human rights NGO working towards peace and reconciliation through active engagement with international human rights bodies such as the Human Rights Council (HRC) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). S4J is further convinced that adressing injustice cannot be complete without practical action ....

In June 2015 S4J President D. Dönges  gave an interview with Ahmed Quraishi from express news. The interview began by discussing the case of Kashmir compared to Palestine, followed by the situation in Pakistan, discrimination, blasphemy laws and the case of Asia Bibi, islamophobia in Europe and finally how to reach real diversity in our respective cultures.

S4J Country visit: Palestine

S4J was founded in the conviction that justice is precondition for universal and lasting peace, yet that far too few times action is taken. In order to understand the situation on the grund S4J undertook several field visits to the occupied Palestinian territories. S4J remains deeply concerned about the situation, as the ongoing illegal occupation and creeping land annexation by Israel have led to a systematic pattern of harassment, abuse, discrimination and  violence that affect Palestinian human rights on all levels. Read the full report here.

 Defending defenders 

Scales for Justice (S4J) has defined the four fundamental freedoms - freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from fear and freedom from want - as the core field of its work. S4J considered it therefore important for HR defender Abdallah Aburahma to attend the 28th regular session of the Human Rights Council and meet with representatives from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for further protection.  Read the full report of his visit here.

S4J Country visit: Pakistan

S4J is concerned about the rights of minorities and the right to development. In order to understand the situation on the ground S4J undertook a field visit to Pakistan, whre minorities suffer from a systematic pattern of discrminiation that affects their human rights on all leves, in particular with regard to the right to freedom of religion and their right to development. Read the full report here.

 S4J Country visit: Lebanon

S4J Country visit: Lebanon

Scales for Justice undertook a field visit to the camps of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Among other factors S4J found that the humanitarian situation is dire and especially concerning in view of the health conditions in the camps as well as the lack of educational opportunities for children. Urgent action is needed, concluded S4J, and even if we can only do our small little share it is important to help other human beings to pass such a difficult phase without losing hope and strength. Read the full report here.

Susyia, a policy of starvation and expulsion

In August 2015 S4J visited one more time the village of Susiya, which is under imminent threat of destruction after Israel’s High Court of Justice rejected a petition for an interim order to freeze demolition orders. Protests are taking place weekly in order to prevent the demolitions and diplomats including from the EU, the US and the UN have urged the Israeli authorities to halt demolitions. Susiya is an appealing example the ongoing occupation and illegal expansion of settlements has on the ground. Read the full article here

Effective Advocacy

In its communication report to the 29th  session of the Human Rights Council the OHCHR published a government communication on behalf of Palestinian HR defender Abdallah Aburahma. The letter was signed by 6 UN mandates, including the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the SR on freedom of opinion and expression, the SR freedom of peaceful assembly and the SR on Palestine. S4J considers the letter a great success of joint efforts for justice and will continue to advocate for the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from fear, and freedom from want. Read more