ISRAEL/OCCUPIED TERRITORIES/PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY: Amnesty International urges the EU to take action on the Association Agreement

In a letter sent to all European Union foreign ministers Amnesty International today called for the European Union Association Council meeting, due to take place on 14-15 May, to address human rights violations in relation to the Association Agreement which states that respect for human rights constitutes an Aessential element of the Agreement.

Unless the European Union addresses the serious human rights violations, especially the deterioration which has accompanied the recent intifada, we believe that Article 2 will remain an empty formula, said Amnesty International.

Long term violations which have been allowed to thrive as a result of impunity have led to a crisis of human rights and a culture of violence and revenge in the region. Human rights have to be put at the heart of the agenda for peace. Any prospect for an end to the violence and for lasting stability and peace will depend on an effective policy for human rights protection, the organization added.

Amnesty International is calling on the European Union to remind Israel of its human rights obligations and ensure that verifiable steps are taken to address human rights violations: The deaths of more than 400 Palestinians, most of them unlawfully killed, the wounding of more than 12,000; the failure to carry out proper investigations; the shelling of residential areas; the demolition of houses; reports of torture and other ill-treatment and the lack of freedom of movement.

Amnesty International urged the European Union to lay down benchmarks for the areas enumerated above, demanding, for instance, an end to the killings, an investigation into every death, an end to closures and house demolitions. These could be evaluated within a limited period before any decision on other measures in the framework of the Association Agreement would be taken.

The letter also asks the EU to monitor and address human rights violations committed by the Palestinian Authority which include the execution of Palestinians after grossly unfair trials, the failure to investigate killings and to prevent targeting of civilians from areas under its jurisdiction, prolonged detention without charge or trial and reports of torture or other ill- treatment.

Background

Association Agreements are established between the European Union and other states to provide a framework for political dialogue, to foster trade, advance economic activity, improve living conditions and to promote cooperation, including regional cooperation with a view to the consolidation of economic coexistence and economic and political stability.

The Association Agreement with Israel was signed on 20 November 1995 and entered into force on 1 June 2000. The Interim Association Agreement with the Palestinian Authority was signed on 24 February 1997 and entered into force on 1 July 1997. The evaluation of the first year of operation of the Association Agreement is due to take place in June 2001.

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