The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR, Arabic: المركز الفلسطيني لحقوق الإنسان) is an independent Palestinian human rights organization based in Gaza City, founded and directed by Raji Sourani. The non-governmental organization was established in 1995 by a group of Palestinian lawyers and human rights activists and receives funding from governmental, non-governmental, and religious sources.
Principles and philosophy
The Centre states on its website that its founding principles are to:
In its philosophy statement, PCHR repudiates the Oslo Accords as 'fatally flawed' and adds:
Moreover, the Oslo accords failed to address the essential elements of the Palestinian question -- the right to self-determination, the right to an independent Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem, the right of return for Palestinian refugees and the removal of Israeli settlements from the OPT. In light of this wide-ranging disregard for the human rights of the Palestinian people, the Centre resolved to continue its work to protect human rights from ongoing violations by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF).
The group has consultative and affiliative status with a number of Arab, European and United Nations' organizations and has received the 1996 French Republic Award on Human Rights and the 2002 Bruno Kreisky Award for Outstanding Achievements in the Area of Human Rights. The group has repeatedly called for a ban on capital punishment in the Palestinian territories, which is supported by a majority of Palestinians. The group has also released reports relating to violence in the Palestinian territories and Israel. Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, was denied a permit to exit the Gaza Strip to attend a human rights conference in September 2008.
According to the site's funding page, most of the Centre's funding comes from the Sweden Chapter of the International Commission of Jurists, the Ford Foundation (USA), NOVIB (Holland), Open Society Fund (USA), Christian Aid (UK), Dan Church Aid in Denmark, Grassroots International (USA), European Commission, Irish Aid in Ireland, Kvinna Till Kvinna in Sweden, Al Quds Association Malaga in Spain, the Royal Danish Representative Office, and the Representative Office of Norway.
The group has received funding from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to support the establishment of a Women and Group Rights' Unit.
In their report titled "Impunity for US Peace Activist's Death" that contains eyewitness testimonies for Rachel Corrie's disputable death case, on 30 June 2003, PCHR declared they have "submitted more than 1200 complaints to the Israeli occupying forces regarding human rights violations since the beginning of the current Intifada. In no case in which PCHR has submitted a complaint, has any individual in the Israeli occupying forces, security services or other persons, been prosecuted or otherwise disciplined for any act perpetrated against a Palestinian or foreign national. PCHR asserts that the State of Israel should be aware that where it fails in its specific legal obligations to conduct full and fair investigations into human rights violations, and bring those responsible to justice in accordance with international law, victims of Israeli war crimes may seek alternative judicial remedies abroad, including under the principle of universal jurisdiction."
The PCHR condemned the Israeli government for allowing "Jewish settler groups to enter the yards of the al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem" and for using excessive force against Palestinians attempting to "prevent the provocative entry of settlers into the Mosque."
In 2011 the PCHR criticized a decision by Hamas prohibiting a group of seven high school students from leaving Gaza in order to spend a year studying in the United States. The American nonprofit Amideast had awarded the students special scholarships for the program. A Hamas minister explained that "A 15-year-old girl cannot spend a year in America without a supervisor."