Human Rights& International Law Program
Enhancing the National Education Sector’s Role in Promoting Respect for IHL and IHRL in Palestine
Abwein- Ramallah District
Abwein is a Palestinian town in Ramallah Governorate located 14.3 km north of Ramallah City. In 2007, the total population of Abwein was 2,932 people, of whom 1,459 were male and 1,473 were female, according to the results of the 2007 PCBS’s Population, Housing and Establishment Census. According to the same Census, the illiteracy rate amongst the Abwein population was about 7.3%, of whom 80% were female. Of the literate population, 12.2% could only read and write with no formal education, 22.1% had elementary education, 26.7% had preparatory education, 23.4% had secondary education, and 8.2% completed higher education.
The economy of the Abwein depends on various sectors. The employment (government & private) sector is the most important, comprising 40% of the labor force. Results from field surveys conducted by the Applied Research Institute- Jerusalem indicated that the commercial sector is the second most important economic activity, accounting for 32% of the labor force. Similar to other Palestinian towns in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Abwein has long suffered from violations of the International Humanitarian Law and the International Human Rights Law, perpetrated mainly by the Israeli Occupation. Such violations include but are not limited to property confiscation, deprivation of access to natural resources including agricultural land and water, house demolitions, settler attacks, settlement expansion, bypass roads, military invasions, detention of children and HRs activists and torture against detainees.
During 2015, Abwein Secondary Girl School took part in TCC’s project “Enhancing the National Education Sector’s Role in Promoting Respect for IHRL and IHL in Palestine”, which has been financed by the Human Rights & IHL Secretariat. 32 female 11th graders from this school received a training package in IHL and IHRL and their co-applicability in the Palestinian context, documentation of and building integrated cases on violations of both international law regimes, UN tools and mechanisms and establishing individual and in-group complaints using the available UN complaint mechanisms and procedures including: HRs Council Complaint Procedure, Complaint Mechanism of the Special Procedures, Complaint Mechanisms via the Special Rapporteur and treaty-based Complaint Procedures. The training package provided for the 32 students also included the IHL/IHRL Civic Link technique, through which target youth are fully entrusted to define the violation that affect the community most and work together to stop this violation through advocacy activities and within the framework of the international law provisions and instruments. Thereafter, students conducted a survey in their town to solicit citizens’ opinions on the most serious violations of the International law in their town. Respondents mentioned various violations including land confiscations, restrictions on movement, child detention and torture against Palestinian detainees in the Israeli Jails. Following, students met to analyze the results of the survey made and to decide on one of these violations to be tackled through their HRs activism. Results of their analysis revealed that “Child’s Detention & Torture Perpetrated against Children Detainees” is the most serious community’s concern when it comes to violations of Human Rights and International Humanitarian law. Students commenced their working on this serious concern by gathering detailed information on the ill-treatment and torture methods inflicted upon children detainees since the moment of arrest, throughout the interrogation and trail periods and during the period of detention. In so doing, students interviewed parents of children detainees “including an interview with Khalid Al-Sheikh’s parents”, the lawyer Akram Samarah, Al-Haq Foundation, the Higher Follow-up Commission for Prisoner Affairs and Khalid Al-Sheikh himself after his release. Through these interviews, students could document all the degrading, ill-treatment and torture methods to which Palestinian children are exposed to during the arrest moments, interrogation and detention. Students carefully searched the related articles and provisions under the International Humanitarian Law and the International Human Rights Law to come up with a draft that provides an integrated image of the reality of children detainees in the Israeli jails from the International Law perspective. Later, students met to discuss what can be done by them as Human Rights activists to contribute to the effort made locally and internationally to put an end to these violations and reduce their psychosocial impacts on Palestinian children. In response to this question, students decided to form a Human Rights Defender club including in its membership, in addition to them, women and youth activists, parents of detained children and children ex-detainees. According to the students, the club will be assigned to several tasks including: raising awareness among citizens and children ex-detainees on the psychosocial impacts of children detention and torture; providing awareness sessions for children on their legal rights during arrest, interrogation and detention; working with other public and private foundations to meet the needs of children ex-detainees including psychosocial support, educational needs and employment; keeping abreast of emergent violations of children rights through monitoring, documentation and exposing violations to media tools; building integrated cases on documented violations and establishing complaints; raising established complaints via the available UN procedures and mechanisms and networking with international foundations to increase solidarity with the Palestinian people. During August 2015, the newly formed club could perform its first two tasks; which were, establishing and raising a complaint via the Human Rights Council Complaint Procedure on Khalid Al-Sheikh case and developing a booklet on the reality of children detainees in the Israeli jails from the International Law perspective. Moreover, work is underway to establish a facebook page to continuously inform the public on the activities of the club.
It’s also worth of mentioning that TCC will keep providing support for the newly-formed club. For instance, TCC intends to target members of this club through a training course on protection mechanisms for HRs Defenders including communication and digital security.