Ramallah, April 3, 2014—Following a unanimous decision by the Palestinian leadership, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed 15 international treaties and conventions on Tuesday.
The decision comes after Israel failed to release a fourth and final group of Palestinian prisoners as previously agreed. Prior to the resumption of negotiations between the two sides in July 2013, the Palestine Liberation Organization agreed to postpone joining international bodies in exchange for the release of 104 Palestinians prisoners jailed before the Oslo Accords.
DCI-Palestine welcomes the State of Palestine’s accession to the international treaties and conventions, especially the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
While signing the CRC and the Optional Protocol is a positive step toward ensuring the rights of Palestinian children are safeguarded, reforms to Palestinian domestic laws must also be implemented.
In signing the CRC and the Optional Protocol, a state accepts an obligation to respect, protect, promote and fulfill the enumerated rights — including by adopting or changing laws and policies that implement the provisions of the CRC or Optional Protocol.
Currently, Palestinian domestic laws regarding children’s rights fall short of international standards. Of particular concern is the outdated Jordanian Juvenile Law of 1954, which provides the existing legal framework in the West Bank for dealing with children in conflict with the law. This legislation does not meet international juvenile justice standards and works against the best interests of the child.
Alongside the State of Palestine’s accession to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol, DCI-Palestine urges President Abbas to sign the Draft Law on Juvenile Justice, which has been formulated by a national committee in response to the failings of the current system.
While this law would remedy many of the existing issues, it still awaits the president’s signature before it can come into effect.
General Director of DCI-Palestine, Rifat Kassis, commented on the developments, “The most important aspect of international law is its implementation through actions at the national level. The Palestinian leadership must integrate international human rights law into domestic laws and promote national implementation throughout government institutions.”
“Importantly, joining international treaties or bodies does not in any way relieve Israel as an occupying power from its responsibilities under international law,” he said.