Amnesty International has called on Palestinian leaders to make human rights and the rule of law a "top priority" and said they must both put their "own houses in order" and stop "fostering violence" following the Mecca agreement between Fatah and Hamas.
Irene Khan, secretary-general of Amnesty, wrote to the Palestinian Authority's chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, and prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh on Friday calling on their projected unity government to create a security force that "respects the human rights of all Palestinian people and operates within the rule of law."
"The two leaders must take action to break the pattern of impunity which has fostered spiraling interfactional violence in the occupied Palestinian territories between armed groups and security forces loyal to President Abbas's Fatah party and Prime Minister Haniyeh's Hamas party," Khan said.
"Any agreement between the two sides must address the human rights abuses their forces are committing and ensure an end to the pattern of impunity that, for far too long, has allowed the gunmen to walk free and repeat their crimes," she said. "The leaders of Fatah and Hamas must put their own houses in order and stop fostering the internecine violence that has shattered so many Palestinian lives."
Amnesty called on the two men to take prompt action to ensure that the recruitment and training of members of the security forces and the prosecutorial authorities is free of partisan political control, that they be accountable to their community, and that no groups or individuals be allowed to use or carry weapons in a manner that could jeopardize the security of others.
The NGO also recommended the issuing of clear instructions the PA security forces that anyone who abuses their power or violates human rights will be brought to account, including, if appropriate, criminal prosecution.
Amnesty also called for a mechanism to ensure independent, impartial oversight of the security forces to ensure that all killings, abductions and any other attacks against civilians are investigated promptly, thoroughly and impartially, and that those responsible for such crimes are brought to justice in proceedings that comply with internationally recognized standards for fair trial, and without recourse to the death penalty.
In the past six weeks, more than 80 people have been killed in clashes between Hamas and Fatah, including unarmed civilians, around 10 of them children.
The new government of unity must ensure that all unlawful killings, abductions and any other attacks against civilians - be they Palestinians, Israelis or nationals of other countries - are investigated promptly, thoroughly and impartially, and that those responsible for such crimes are brought to justice, Amnesty said.