Gaza Supreme Court Decision on Prior Travel Permits
PCHR Shocked by Gaza Supreme Court’s Decision Concerning Imposition of Prior Travel Permits from the Ministry of Interior
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is shocked by the Gaza Supreme Court’s decision issued on Sunday, 08 September 2012, rejecting PCHR’s petition against the Ministry of Interior concerning compelling Palestinians wishing to travel through Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing to obtain prior permits from the Ministry of Interior. PCHR confirms that this decision has established new legal positions for the Ministry of Interior and its security services in violation of legal and constitutional rules.
PCHR had filed a petition at the Supreme Court on 12 May 2013 following the Ministry of Interior’s decision on the same day to prevent Lawyer Iyad al-Alami, Director of PCHR Legal Unit, and Lawyer Mohammed Bseisso, from traveling to the West Bank through Beit Hanoun Crossing, because both lawyers refused to obtain prior permits from the Ministry, considering this procedure a violation of the law and constitution. On 27 February 2013, the Ministry of Interior stated on its webpage that a decision was issued compelling people who wish to travel through Beit Hanoun crossing to refer in advance to the Ministry to obtain necessary approvals.
However, PCHR was surprised by the Court’s decision to adjourn considering the petition to the session of 08 September 2012, although the Court had held 6 sessions to consider the petition since it was filed, and the petition is characterized by urgency according to the law. PCHR expressed concerns over that decision and considered it a form of unjustified procrastination.
On Sunday, 08 September 2013, the Court rejected the petition and obligated PCHR to pay fees, expenses and defense costs.
It should be noted that this Court’s decision of the second of its kind to be issued by a high judicial body in Gaza in response to PCHR’s petitions. On 18 June 2012, the Supreme Court, in its constitutional capacity, issued a decision dismissing a petition filed by PCHR against the Council of Ministers’ Decision No. 229 of 2011, which also established new legal positions for the Ministry of Interior in violation of the provisions of the Charitable Associations and Community Organizations Law 1/2002, claiming non-competence.
In light of the above, while socked by the Supreme Court's decision:
1- PCHR stresses that the Court's decision has established new legal position for security services and the Ministry of Interior in violation of legal and constitutional standards, and the Gaza Council of Ministers' Decision No. 72 of 2013, which organize procedures of travel banning in accordance with the constitution.
2- PCHR emphasizes that the Ministry of Interior's decision to compel people to obtain prior permits to be able to travel is in violation of the law and it is flawed by non-competence and misuse of authority, as the judiciary is the sole party that has the power to issue decisions banning travel.
3- PCHR asserts that the right to freedom of movement is ensured under Articles 11(2), 20 and 28 of the Palestinian Basic Law.
4- PCHR was waiting a prompt positive decision from the Supreme Court to support the law and constitution, especially as the cases it files before competent courts are often rights-related and relevant to the public interests, in consistence with human rights principles that are ensured under the Palestinian Basic Law and relevant international standards.