Palestinian rights watchdog accuses Hamas of preparing to close it

13:39, August 27, 2010      

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A Palestinian national human rights watchdog on Thursday accused Islamic Hamas movement of trying to block its activities in the Gaza Strip.

The accusation came after Hamas lawmakers approved a law and said it aims at regulating the work of the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) in the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave.

Officials from the ICHR said that the law targets the commission, which has been operating since the creation of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), and is a prelude to restricting its work before shutting it.

Hamas parliamentary bloc ratified the law on Tuesday in a session that the ICHR said lacked legitimate quorum since legislators from other factions boycott the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC)'s sessions.

The PLC has been inactive since Hamas took over Gaza by force in 2007, but Hamas lawmakers, who scored landslide in 2006 parliamentary elections, meet alone in the parliament's Gaza headquarters and discuss some laws that mainly aim at boosting the Islamic movement's role in Gaza.

The so-called ICHR's law "provides cover to Hamas' future steps against the commission and its work," said Jameel Sarhan, director of the ICHR program in Gaza. The law "is illegal and violates the Palestinian law," he added.

Sarhan said that Hamas movement is "disturbed" by the ICHR's statements that highlight rights violations by Hamas and its armed forces in Gaza, especially the torture.

He added that the ICHR is a national institute that was formed by a decree issued by late President Yasser Arafat in 1993. Therefore, its work "should remain away from the political conflict" between Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party that holds sway in the West Bank.

Ahmed Abu Halabia, a Hamas lawmaker, defended the law, but failed to hide Hamas' dissatisfaction about the organization's work. "The ICHR is a tool in the hand of the PNA in the West Bank; it defends the mistakes that happen there but exaggerates the mistakes that happen in Gaza," he said.

Abu Halabia added that the ICHR would be reshuffled and would become part of the parliament that Hamas controls, and its employees "would be without any authority" and the new ICHR "would be fair, just and doesn't support the ruling authorities."

Source: Xinhua


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