The 2003 Basic Law of Palestine (as amended) does not explicitly protect the right to life. Article 13(1) stipulates that: "No person shall be subject to any duress or torture. Indictees and all persons deprived of their freedom shall receive proper treatment."
Under Article 26(5), Palestinians have the right to "conduct private meetings without the presence of police members, and to conduct public meetings, gatherings and processions, within the limits of the law".
Article 84(1) of the Basic Law defines the responsibilities of the Palestinian Security Forces and Police, including their duty to respect human rights and freedoms.
The Security Forces and the Police are regular forces. They are the armed forces in the country. Their functions are limited to defending the country, serving the people, protecting society and maintaining public order, security and public morals. They shall perform their duties within the limits prescribed by law, with complete respect for rights and freedoms.
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||State Party|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||Not Party|
|1984 Convention against Torture (CAT)||State Party|
|Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints||No|
|CAT Optional Protocol 1||State Party|
|1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court||State Party|
|2004 Arab Charter of Human Rights||State Party|
Police Use of Force
Domestic regulation of the use of force by Palestinian police has changed in the last few years, putting Palestine in breach of international standards on police use of firearms. A policy on police use of force, the Code on the Use of Force and Firearms by Members of the Palestinian Security Forces, was adopted by the Minister of Interior in 2011. The policy was drafted by the European Union Police Mission for the Palestinian Territories (EU COPPS), which supported the Palestinian Authority "in taking responsibility for law and order, and in particular, in improving its civil police and law enforcement capacity".
The policy, which was well drafted and complied with international standards, stipulated that: "Force used shall be proportional and necessary and only to the extent required to achieve the legitimate objective taking into consideration the application of the use of force continuum."Art. 4, 2011 Code on the Use of Force and Firearms by Members of the Palestinian Security Forces.The policy limited police use of firearms to use "as a last resort ... in cases of extreme necessity to protect human lives but after exhausting all non-violent methods and less-lethal force unless such methods are ineffective or are not expected to achieve the legitimate objectives".Art. 8(4), 2011 Code on the Use of Force and Firearms by Members of the Palestinian Security Forces.
In 2019, however, the Minister of Interior issued a new decree (No. 187) that allowed the police to use firearms, inter alia, in self-defence or defence of others who are threatened with a crime targeting their honour or a financial crime. Shooting an escapee who is suspected of a crime or felony or anyone convicted of criminal offence is also permissible. Firearms may also be used to repel an attack (whose severity is not specified) or against any forcible resistance that cannot be repelled by non-violent means.Art. 6, 2019 Minister of Interior Decree No. 187 on the Police.
The use of firearms purely to protect property is not permissible under international law.
Use of Force in Custodial Settings
Procedures for the use of firearms in custodial settings are regulated in the Law of Correction and Rehabilitation Centers ("Prisons") No. 6 of 1998:
If a firearm is used to warn, scare or deter the escaping person, three warning shots shall be fired. If the escaping person does not comply, shots shall be fired at his/her legs with dues care to avoid serious injuries. Necessary first aid and treatment shall be provided to the injured.Art. 21, Law of Correction and Rehabilitation Centers ("Prisons") No. 6 of 1998.
Firearms may not be used in cases where the lives of others are exposed to danger.Art. 22, Law of Correction and Rehabilitation Centers ("Prisons") No. 6 of 1998.
The Basic Law establishes the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) with the mandate to function as an ombudsman. It reports directly to the President. The ICHR addresses concerns related to the conduct of law enforcement.
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
Palestine came before the Human Rights Committee in July 2023. In its concluding observations, the Committee called upon the Palestinian authorities "to take all necessary measures to prevent the excessive use of force during law enforcement operations", including by
Ensuring that Minister of the Interior Decree No. 187 ... concerning instructions and procedures for the use of force and firearms by police officers is in conformity with the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials and the United Nations Human Rights Guidance on Less-Lethal Weapons in Law Enforcement.
There is no regional court established under the 2004 Arab Charter of Human Rights.