Friday, February 26, 2010

Palestine: Human Rights and Rule of Law at the heart of the EU – Palestinian relationship

Source: European Union (EU) - Officials from the EU and the Palestinian Authority are meeting in Brussels today to continue their regular dialogue on human rights, good governance and the rule of law in the context of the European Neighbourhood Policy

The second round of the Human Rights, Good Governance and Rule of Law Sub-Committee between the Palestinian Authority and the European Union took place in Brussels today. The EU-Palestinian human rights dialogue was held in a frank and open atmosphere, with a productive exchange on issues of mutual interest and concern.

The Palestinian delegation was headed by the Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr Khalil Karaja Al-Rifai. The EU was represented by the European Commission and the Secretariat General of the Council. Representatives of the EU Member States attended the meeting.

The meeting provided for a review of the implementation of priorities under the EU-PA ENP Action Plan. The human rights situation in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, rights of women and children, freedom of the press, unlawful arrests and conditions in Palestinian detention centres were among the concerns addressed. The PA's progress in strengthening the rule of law through judiciary and security sector reforms was equally discussed. The EU plays an active role in support of the Palestinian judiciary and police through assistance managed by the European Commission and Member States, as well as through the EU police mission based in Ramallah – EUPOL COPPS.

To date, the European Union is engaged in dedicated human rights discussions with close to 40 countries around the world. This human rights dialogue with the Palestinian Authority takes place in the context of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). The Palestinian Authority had been one of the first ENP partners to agree a Joint Action Plan with the EU in 2005.

This second round of the human rights dialogue with the PA was preceded by a meeting with civil society organisations in Brussels. In parallel, the EU conducts consultations with civil society and other stakeholders throughout the occupied Palestinian territory.

Christian Berger, the Representative of the European Union, commended the Palestinian Authority for progress made during the past three years: "Prime Minister Fayyad has made enormous progress in preparing the Palestinian Authority for statehood based on the rule of law and in the spirit of good governance, even under the current difficult political environment. The EU is working in close partnership with the Palestinian Authority to assist its efforts in the field of human rights, good governance and the rule of law on the basis of jointly agreed objectives."

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