Human Rights Committee (HRC)

Monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Signed by Israel: 19 December 1966. Ratified: 3 October 1991.

Background | 105th Session, 2012 | 99th Session, 2010 | 78th Session, 2003 | 63rd Session, 1998

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights


Signed by Israel: 19 December 1966

Ratified by Israel: 3 October 1991

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966, commits signing State Parties to protect their citizens'  basic political and civil rights, including freedom of religion, speech and assembly, right to a fair trial and to vote. It forms the International Bill of Human Rights along with the the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The CCPR is based on "All peoples' right of self-determination" (Article 1). It binds "States Parties... including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories" to "promote the realization of the right of self-determination" (Article 3). Article 4 of the Covenant provides that even in emergency  situations, State Parties must ensure that the measures they take "are not inconsistent with their other obligations under international law and do not involve discrimination solely on the ground of race, colour, sex, language, religion or social origin." 

The right to life, freedom from torture, ill-treatment, slavery and arbitrary detention are all specifically protected in the CCPR. The Covenant also lists conditions for detention, including a prompt and fair trial. The right to freedom of movement, to leave any country, and to enter one's own country are also listed. Among other rights to personal life and family, the Covenant protects freedom of speech, thought, and opinion while prohibiting incitement to hatred. 

Israel placed the following resevations on its signing of the CCPR: 

"With reference to Article 23 [right to freedom of marriage] of the Covenant, and any other provision thereof to which the present reservation may be relevant, matters of personal status are governed in Israel by the religious law of the parties concerned.

"To the extent that such law is inconsistent with its obligations under the Covenant, Israel reserves the right to apply that law."

The 105th Session of the HRC, 9-27 July 2012

On 31 August 2012, the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) posed a list of 26 questions (“the List of Issues Prior to Reporting,” LOIPR) regarding Israel’s compliance with the ICCPR. Of the 26 questions, 9 directly regarded issues raised by Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights - Israel, and Al Mezan in a briefing paper on to the HRC submitted in June 2012, including Israel's use of administrative detention, investigations into abuses by the IDF, military courts, legal safeguards for detainees, lack of family visits, and the blockade on the Gaza Strip. 

The HRC also adopted 9 of the 10 urgent issues listed by Adalah in a second report on Israel's discrimination against the Palestinian minority in the country, including the lack of a principle of equality and nondiscrimination in Israel's basic law, further steps to withdraw a proposed law to displace Bedouin in the Naqab, questions on political harassment, and unequal laws. 

Adalah attended the 105th Session of the HRC and presented information to members of the Committee during an NGO Briefing.

Adalah submitted two reports to the 105th Session of the HRC in preparation for its 2012 review of Israel.

The first highlights ten urgent issues of discrimination against Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel and Israel’s lack of compliance with its commitments under the ICCPR. They are:

1. Lack of protection for the right of equality

2. Excessive use of force by police against demonstrators

3. The ongoing ban on family unification

4. Violations of the right to freedom of religion

5. The inferior treatment of the Arabic language

6. The demolition and evacuation of unrecognized Arab Bedouin villages

7. The lack of access to water in unrecognized Arab Bedouin villages

8. Violations of the freedom of opinion, expression and association

9. Infringements on the right to political participation

10. Violations of the right to choose one’s residence

The report also includes an appendix which documents 30 "New Discriminatory Laws and Bills," all enacted or introduced in the Knesset since the beginning of the current Netanyahu-Lieberman government in 2009. Press Release - Read the Report

The second was submitted in partnership with Al MezanPhysicians for Human Rights – Israel and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, and focused on The human rights organizations’ briefing report described Israel’s practices of torture and ill-treatment, including:

  • Israel’s legal classification of torture in “ticking time-bomb” situations as a “lesser evil,” which allow torturers to use the “defence of necessity”, in violation of the ICCPR.
  • Illegal shackling, prolonged solitary confinement and confinement during interrogation, inhumane prison conditions, and severe restrictions on “security prisoners.”
  • Over 700 complaints of torture and other ill-treatment against the GSS (General Security Service, Shabak) interrogators filed between 2001-2011, according to data provided to PCATI by the Ministry of Justice. All of the complaints were dismissed; no criminal prosecutions have been initiated to date, thus creating a state of perpetual impunity.
  • Punishment of hunger strikers, including placing leaders of the movement in solitary confinement, fining prisoners daily up to NIS 500, confiscating salt, imposing blackouts, conducting invasive, brutally violent cell searches, and creating illegal obstacles for hunger strikers to meet with their lawyers.
  • Cruel and degrading treatment of Palestinian civilians in Gaza including illegal closure of borders to movement and trade; harassment and arrest of fishermen, who are often shot at with water cannons or live ammunition and have their boats seized by the Israeli navy even from within the three-nautical mile zone imposed since 2009; denial of medical access for those requiring treatment outside of Gaza; and continued impunity for Operation Cast Lead.

The briefing paper included a list of 28 recommendations for the HRC to call on Israel to adopt in order to comply with the Convention. Press Release - Read the Paper

 The 99th Session of the HRC, 12-30 July 2010

Concluding Observations on Israel 

NGO Reports submitted in June 2010 with PHR-I and Al-Mezan (Press Release), and in August 2009 (Press Release) on Israel's violations of the civil and political rights of the Arab minority in Israel and on the subject of torture and ill-treatment of Palestinians in the OPT.

Press Release (4 August 2010): UN Human Rights Committee urges Israel to ensure detainees immediate access to counsel, repeal Unlawful Combatants Law, reinstate family visits to Gaza prisoners, lift blockade on Gaza, launch independent investigations into Operation Cast Lead, end assassinations and cease collective home demolitions

Press Release (4 August 2010): UN Human Rights Committee Urges Israel to Revoke Ban on Family Unification Law; Ensure Access to non-Jewish Holy Sites; Make Public Administration Fully Accessible in Arabic; Guarantee Cultural Contact for the Arab Minority; Respect Bedouin Rights to Ancestral Land and Basic Services in the Unrecognized Villages

List of Issues from the Committee - 17 November 2009 

Israel's Third Periodic Report - 21 November 2008

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The 78th Session of the HRC, 14 July - 8 August 2003

Adalah General Director Attorney Hassan Jabareen and Adalah Staff Attorney Gadeer Nicola presented Adalah's reports and participated in the Committee's sessions in Geneva, Switzerland on 24-25 July 2003. At these sessions, the Committee reviewed Israel's 2nd Periodic Report (CCPR/C/ISR/2001/2) and reply to the List of Issues on the state's implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Numerous other Israeli, Palestinian and international human rights organizations also presented reports and participated in the Committee's July 2003 sessions including the Association of Forty, the Public Committee Against Torture, Al-Haq, LAW, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). The Israeli delegation was headed by the Ambassador to the UN, Mr. Yaacov Levy, and included seven attorneys from the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led by Mr. Shai Nitzan of the Attorney General's Office.

On 6 August 2003, the Committee issued its Concluding Observations, raising 13 key points regarding Israel's violations of ICCPR rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. For example, the Committee emphasized the need for the State of Israel to:

  • Revoke the new law banning family unification for Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens.
  • Investigate, prosecute and punish public pronouncements made by Israeli pubic figures in relation to Arab citizens of the state, that may constitute "incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence."
  • Review the government's sweeping state of emergency powers.
  • Ensure that the length of detention without access to counsel does not exceed 48 hours.
  • Ensure that alleged instances of ill-treatment and torture are vigorously investigated by independent mechanisms, and that those responsible for such actions are prosecuted.
  • Adopt targeted measures to improve Arab women's representation in the public sector and accelerate progress toward equality.
  • Stop the practices of "targeted killings," the use of Palestinian civilians as "˜human shields' or "˜volunteers' during military operations, and property and home demolitions in the Occupied Territories.
  • Cease construction of the "˜fence" or "wall" in the Occupied Territories.

Adalah's July 2003 submission highlighted:

  • Israel's increasing use of state of emergency laws against Arab leaders and political activists.
  • The Israeli army's use of Palestinian civilians as human shields.
  • Family unification and citizenship.
  • The state's failure to implement laws ensuring the fair representation of Arab citizens of Israel in governmental bodies.

These reports supplemented Adalah's October 2002 submission to the Committee. Adalah also provided the Committee with reports previously submitted to the UN CESCR in May 2003.

Adalah Press Release: UN Human Rights Committee to Israel: Revoke New Ban on Family Unification Law and Investigate, Prosecute, and Punish Incitement against Arab Citizens of the State - 10 Aug 2003

UN HRC Concluding Observations

Adalah's Submission:
State of Emergency |  Human Shields |  Family Unification & Citizenship |  Fair Representation.

The 63rd Session of the HRC, 13-31 July 1998

Concluding Observations of the Commitee following Israel's First Report, which raised concerns about the government's protection of the civil and political rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel.

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