The Palestinian Association for Human Rights "Witness" is an independent association working towards improving the living conditions of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, at least to meet the basic human rights and international conventions and standards of living. The association also focuses on promoting the culture of democracy and responsibility among the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, as a major part of the Palestinian Diaspora; and to protect the Palestinian basic rights of return and self-determination.
• Supporting the Palestinian refugees in their right to live in decent conditions, which meet the international human right standards.
• Raising awareness among the Palestinian refugees towards their human rights.
• Engaging the communities of the Palestinian refugees in promoting their case and rights.
• Improving the living conditions of the Palestinian refugees.
• Defining the rights of the Palestinian refugees and protecting it.
• Promoting the culture of the children's rights among the Palestinian community of refugees in Lebanon.
• Giving the Palestinian youth and children the needed attention and meeting their demands.
• Giving the Palestinian women the deserved attention, and working against the various faces of discrimination and violence she suffers from.
The Palestinian Association for Human Rights "Witness" strives to create a Palestinian, Lebanese and Arab environment that better understand the rights of the Palestinian Refugees.
This task involves:
• Holding conferences and seminars.
• Media and advertising campaigns.
• Interviews and focus groups in secondary schools and for local committees.
• Publishing reports and studies about the living conditions of the Palestinians in Lebanon.
• Regular meetings with Lebanese, Arab and international politicians on the issue of the Palestinian human rights.
The Palestinian Association for Human Rights "Witness" is a civil society organization that works with its partners towards defending the marginalized Palestinian groups. "Witness" believes that coordination, consultation, cooperation and partnership with civil society are necessary, because the principle of human solidarity is one of the pillars of work in civil society. "Witness" has strong relationship with different NGOs; a partnership relation, coordination and integration with local, Arab and international organizations (human rights, youth, educational, sports, charities...); and "Witness" is a member in different coalitions and networks.
There is a huge gap between the texts and the reality of living of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, whose suffering is intolerable, and accumulating since their early arrival in 1948. It is within this hard and complex situation that "Witness" works:
• Defend marginalized groups socially, legally and via media especially detainees and prisoners.
• Follow-up the file of refugees who are facing daily problems with UNRWA.
• Defend those who face any psychological and moral harm as a result of some media.
• Document cases of abuse or violation and work on them with those who are responsible on these cases.
"Witness" establishes extensive contacts with responsible parties or charities or media in order to defend human rights. "Witness" has a permission issued by the Ministry of Justice and the Interior Ministry to visit the prisons and see the situation of Palestinian prisoners, socially and psychologically, and give brief details to their families and how to help them according to legal methods.
Witness is working constantly on training and educating people on how to respect and implement the items relating to human rights. The training process includes the staff and volunteers, each according to their position or level. The association held dozens of training courses, both in its center or in the regions. The Working Group or the volunteers have become fairly well aware of the mechanisms of action in the field of human rights.
Fifth, Providing legal advice and research:
The Office of the Association in Beirut welcomes the refugees who are seeking legal consultations in addition to researchers and media representatives.
• Exodus: A photo-book that tells the Palestinian journey of suffering since 1948.
• Compilation of statements and memorandums made by Palestinians to Lebanese officials on the conditions of the Palestinians in Lebanon between 1991 and 2006.
• The Palestinian Children in Lebanon: A Bitter Reality and an Unknown Future )Field Study, august 2008).
• The Palestinian Students in Lebanon: Opportunities and Challenges (Field Study, April 2009).
• The Health Conditions of the Palestinians in Refugee Camps and Gatherings in Lebanon (field Study, 2009 – 2008).
• Ein Al-Hilweh: Social, Economic and Demographic Indicators (Field Study, March 2010).
• Non-Suitable Shelters: Case Study of Al-Rashidieh Camp (2010).
• The Needs of the Palesitnian Refugees in Lebanon (2010).
• Thalasemia Patients in Borj Shimali Camp (2010).
Major contributions of "Witness" in defending Palestinian Human rights are:
• Periodic reports on the civil rights of the Palestinian refugees.
• Appeals for successive Lebanese governments.
• Proposals to amend some of the parliament decisions on the civil rights of refugees.
• Regular meetings with the various Lebanese parliamentary groups or forces to explain and illustrate the suffering of Palestinian refugees and to mobilize support.
• Communication with the various Lebanese political forces.
• Following-up the file of the "Non ID" Palestinians refugees in Lebanon.
• Following-up file of detainees in the Lebanese General Security prisons or in other prisons in Lebanon.
• Active follow-up to what had happened for the people of Nahr al-Bared from the oppression and violation of their social and human rights, and try to defend them.
• Following-up with the General department for political affairs and refugees and work to facilitate the issuance of identification documents for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
• Organization of demonstrations and protesting campaigns in front of the United Nations centers and embassies to ask about the demands of the refugees.
• Holding lectures and seminars in the camps and Palestinian gatherings to highlight the rights of refugees and mechanism of action to demand it.
• Following-up the issues of refugees with UNRWA in various fields: - health - education - Social Affairs - reconstruction and infrastructure.