Yesterday, the police in Gaza banned Filastiniyat Organization from holding a roundtable discussion that was supposed to be held at the organization’s hall in Gaza City under the pretext of having no prior permit.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the Gaza Security Services’ persistence in imposing illegal constraints on peaceful assemblies although the Public Meetings Law no. 12/1998 does not require any prior procedure or request for holding meetings in closed places. PCHR emphasizes that the violated meeting and other similar gatherings, workshops and seminars are all considered gatherings in a closed private or public place; thus, they do not fall under the meetings that require a notification as codified by the Public Meetings Law.
PCHR stresses that meetings which require notifying the police 48 hours before holding them are only gatherings organized in open public places with the attendance of more than 50 persons, to ensure the protection of attendees and traffic control.
On Tuesday, 17 January 2023, Filastiniyat had finished all the arrangements to hold a roundtable discission at its office in Gaza City, in order to discuss the results of an investigative report published by NAWA Network, one of the Organization’s programs on 13 November 2022, on “Protection Mechanisms against Harassment at Academic Institutions”. The organization invited representatives of the Ministry of Education, the police and members of the Legislative Council to participate in the discussion.
Mona Khader, the coordinator of Filastiniyat in Gaza, said to PCHR that yesterday at around 09:30, she received a phone call from the Associations Department at the Ministry of Interior informing her to come to their office in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood. Upon her arrival, an officer at the department told her that the meeting should be postponed, but she insisted on holding it on time and then left. When she headed to her office to follow up the arrangements for the event, an officer at the Associations Department called her to inform her of a decision to ban the event. Afterwards, officers from the General Investigation Service came at the Filastiniyat’s office to ban the event under the pretext of not obtaining a prior permit.
PCHR underlines the seriousness of the procedures taken by the Ministry of Interior relevant to the public meetings in closed places, such as halls and others, which do not in any way require having a permit or notifying the competent authorities to be held. Such procedures raise further concerns among PCHR and other civil society organizations as they are arbitrary and illegitimate restrictions imposed on the peaceful assembly.
PCHR emphasizes that the right to peaceful assembly is one of the fundamental human rights and binding on the State of Palestine according to Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Pollical Rights, which Palestine has accessed to since 2014.
PCHR affirms that the executive regulation of the Public Meetings Law issued by Late President Yasser ‘Arafat, in his capacity as the Ministry of Interior, contradicts with the text and spirit of the Public Meetings Law and 2003 amended Basic Law. Thus, PCHR reiterates its call to repeal or amend this regulation in compliance with the law.
Hence, PCHR calls upon the security services in the Gaza Strip to stop pursuing the peaceful assemblies and their organizers and to abide by law as well as not imposing illegal and arbitrary restrictions on those intending to hold such assemblies.