Date: 15 Oct 2019
The International Commission (ICSPR) calls the monetary authority’s and banks operating in Palestine to end their violations of the right to free formation of associations and institutions
Occupied Palestine / Gaza: The International Commission to Support Palestinians’ Rights (ICSPR) called on the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, to intervene for the sake of human beings and their rights, especially ensuring the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association without being restricted in accordance with international law, especially international human rights law.
ICSPR said: “According to the information available, the Ministry of Interior in Ramallah has frozen the accounts of dozens of civil and charitable organizations and associations operating in the Gaza Strip, as it has received many complaints from NGOs in the Gaza Strip about freezing their bank accounts in banks operating in the strip, which threatens the services it provides, as well as its obligations towards the sectors of beneficiaries, suppliers and financiers, which undermines its work and plays its role in strengthening the steadfastness of the Palestinian citizen.
It explained that these illegal measures and restrictions come within the framework of the implementation of a policy that has extended over the past 12 years, whereby thousands of Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip are deprived of exercising their right to form, form and join civil and charitable societies, and this is not only a result of the sterile and complicated registration procedures the ministry of the interior in the West Bank, rather it took another direction when the Executive Authority (the Palestinian government) used one of its most important executive arms represented by the (Palestinian Monetary Authority) by issuing instructions and decisions to Palestinian and non-Palestinian banks operating in the Gaza Strip to practice many measures against associations and charity.
The International Commission reviewed the most prominent of these measures, including the banks ’refusal to open accounts for newly registered associations in the Gaza Strip, freezing the accounts of some private and charitable societies registered in accordance with legal principles, in addition to the banks’ refusal to receive remittances from a number of charities without any justification.
ICSPR affirmed that these ongoing measures have often been accompanied by other decisions, confirming the Palestinian government’s approach to restricting the right to freedom of association, through the illegal employment of the Palestinian Monetary Authority. For example, the Palestinian Ministry of Labor, on April 28, 2016, issued a decision instructing the Palestinian Monetary Authority to issue binding directives to banks operating in Palestine to freeze the financial and bank accounts of labor unions, under the pretext that they did not settle their legal status, as well as requiring the decision to obtain an official letter from the Ministry of Labor for the purpose of opening bank accounts. The same approach is practiced against non-profit companies, as it stipulated the approval of the Ministry of National Economy for development projects intended to be presented to external financing agencies.
ICSPR pointed out that the Palestinian Monetary Authority as well as the banks operating in the occupied Palestinian territories do not essentially have any authority over the work of associations, and do not have any interference in its work in any way. However, during the past 12 years the role of the Monetary Authority has emerged in restricting the right of associations to exist.
The International Commission continued: “The Monetary Authority has worked to interfere in the work of societies since the internal Palestinian division, as banks operating in the Gaza Strip claim that the Monetary Authority has issued decisions not to open accounts for new associations.
It emphasized that this policy contributed greatly to undermining the work of associations in the Gaza Strip, and effectively preventing the existence of new societies, and new accounts are not opened for any association except through mediation and special relations, and banks provide verbal rejection without justification to those wishing to open accounts for their associations.