Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens' Rights
PALESTINIAN INDEPENDENT COMMISSION FOR CITIZENS' RIGHTS
Autonomous human rights agency within the Palestinian Authority (PA) created in September 1993 at the urging of Hanan Ashrawi, who was its first commissioner general. To insure its independence, the commission is funded by contributions from outside the PA (mainly from European governments and foundations), and is controlled by a board of commissioners made up of Palestinians from both the territories and the diaspora, with public commitments to human rights and democracy. The commissioner general and executive director are appointed by the board, and staff members are not considered part of the PA civil service. The commission attempts to act as an ombudsman within Palestinian society, investigating and attempting to resolve complaints of abuses from Palestinian citizens against the PA. It monitors the activities of public institutions and tries to insure accountability; tries to safeguard freedom of expression and democratic participation in political decision making; reviews draft legislation and makes recommendations to insure conformity to international human rights standards; and familiarizes citizens with their rights and the means of defending them. The commission operates with sufficient independence that members of its staff and leadership have been arrested and jailed on several occasions. The commission also monitors and issues public statements and reports regarding the actions of the Israeli occupation authorities. In 2004, officers included Mamduh al-Aker, commissioner general, and Said Zeedani, director general. The board of commissioners included Ashrawi, Eyad Sarraj, Haydar Abd al-Shafi (all former commissioners general), Mahmud Darwish, and Nasir Aruri, among others.