En palestinsk flicka tittar fram bakom den så kallade säkerhetsbarriären på Västbanken.

The separation barrier, which is largely built on occupied land, separates Palestinians from Palestinians and is worsening the access to education, health care and medical care.

Photo: Ola Torkelsson

example of result

Bureau coordinates human rights resources

Published: 21 October 2009 Updated: 21 August 2014

Human rights violations, such as unjust imprisonment, housing that is torn down and the dismissal or harassment of people who support the “wrong” party are common for the population of the West Bank and Gaza. Sweden and other donor countries have established a common bureau to achieve better results in the work of improving the respect for human rights.

Israel continues to violate human rights and international humanitarian rights in the West Bank and Gaza. Out-of-court executions, disproportionate and indiscriminate violence towards civilians and other considerable violations of human rights have been noted in the Swedish Foreign Ministry’s report on human rights. Human rights organizations have also criticised the Israeli authorities for allowing the army and settlers to carry out attacks without being punished.

The separation barrier, which is largely built on occupied land, separates Palestinians from Palestinians and is worsening the access to education, health care and medical care.

In recent years, violations by the Palestinian authorities and Hamas have also increased. The situation in Gaza has worsened considerably following Hamas’ seizure of power in June 2007. Hundreds of people have been arrested for political reasons; there are reports of violence towards prisoners and systematic torture; and executions have been carried out.

The situation in the West Bank has also worsened. Demonstrations have been brutally crushed, journalists have been arrested and non-governmental organizations have been banned. There are also reports of torture and other humiliating treatment of prisoners.

The work to improve respect for human rights is an important part of Sweden’s support for people in the West Bank/Gaza and for the creation of a future democratic Palestinian state.

Many donors

The situation in the occupied areas, along with large-scale rights violations, has led to many donor countries and organizations becoming involved. There are so many of them that there is a risk that work will be duplicated or that the same projects will receive support from several sources, which could in turn lead to corruption.

To alleviate these problems, Sweden has been working with Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands to introduce a bureau for human rights. The bureau’s task is to receive applications for support from local human rights organizations and then, based on the donor countries’ common criteria, present proposals on which of them should receive support. The bureau also follows up the contributions given and acts as a dialogue partner for the local organizations.

The human rights bureau makes the process both simpler and more open for everyone involved. The organizations avoid having to deal with the demands of different co-operating countries and only need contact with one party.

Change can be achieved

Sweden is supporting both Palestinian and Israeli organizations through the human rights bureau. So far, 25 organizations have received support from the common fund. In some cases, the Israeli organizations can work with issues that the Palestinians cannot, such as legal support for Palestinians who have been imprisoned and reuniting families.

The human rights situation in the West Bank and in Gaza is tied together with the existing conflict, and developments are currently moving in the wrong direction. Nevertheless, the organizations are continuing their work. For example, during the Gaza war at the end of 2008, several Palestinian organizations documented the Israeli attacks. From the first day of the war, they collected witness accounts, documented the soldiers’ arrival, examined where bombs had fallen and recorded who had been living in the houses that had been hit.

In the future, the bureau for human rights will work more on the exchange of knowledge and experience between organizations.


Page owner: Department for Asia, North Africa and Humanitarian Assistance

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