The Legal Clinic staff use GJ (Grassroots Jerusalem) facilities to provide lectures and workshops to marginalized communities and Jerusalemite Rights Holders (JRH) concerning their urban, civil and human rights and how to demand them.
Initiation of legal aid, advice and assistance for Jerusalem residents begins with a legal assessment. The assessment is conducted by the GJLC (Grassroots Jerusalem Legal Clinic) lawyers in collaboration with GJ Mapping and Assessment Coordinator. Together they prepare a protocol, a list of actions to be taken with each JRH case. The protocol determines whether a case should be directed to a relevant legal agency an associate partner specialising in the case’s legal discipline, or whether the GJLC can resolve the case.
JRHs with legal concerns regarding urban, civil or human rights are welcome. The Clinic provides initial consultation and basic services such as document preparation and submission, communication assistance with the relevant authorities, and more.
Since the occupation and annexation of the eastern part of Jerusalem in 1967 by Israel, the realization of basic human rights for its Palestinian residents has seriously detiorated. Their rights to housing, family, freedom of movement, education, health, employment and fair legal procedures are being systematically and strategically violated. Jerusalemite Palestinians, living under occupation and also under the responsibility of its civil municipal governance, are disempowered and their rights violated not only in daily life aspects but also in regulations imposed on them for being proud Palestinians.
The policies of displacement implemented by the occupation authorities against Jerusalemite Palestinians are translated into “daily life” bureaucratic difficulties that require legal assistance. These include: residency revocation, violation of national insurance rights, child arrests, family unification restrictions, house demolitions, land confiscation, prosecution of individuals and organisations advocating for human rights and social change and many more.
Many individual cases are unique to Jerusalem, because of the city’s unique legal status as an “International City” (according to UN resolution 181) and Israel’s Illegal occupation and annexation of East Jerusalem Palestinian Neighborhoods since 1967. The unique residency status for Palestinians in Jerusalem influences many urban and civil rights. The volume of individual civil charges against Palestinians regarding their legal status in Jerusalem demonstrates the extent of the systematic oppression of the occupation regime. Jerusalemites need a range of services to address these issues. They include help understanding letters written in Hebrew, the completion of required forms, help to understand and demand rights that have been ignored or discriminated against, immediate responses in urgent cases such as illegal arrests and house demolitions, and affordable representation in court for those with economic constraints.
There are a number of legal agencies active in East Jerusalem today. However, the overflowing extent of demand for legal assistance proves the extent of legal discrimination in the city. There is an obvious need for further strategic development to address the increasing amount of Jerusalemite legal cases. By focusing on genuine cooperation that would result in complementary rather than competitive work between the legal actors, the Grassroots Jerusalem legal clinic fills the gaps existing today in legal services.
The primary objective is to support and protect the human rights of the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and reinforce the capacities of the human rights defenders to provide legal services and undertake advocacy work at a local and international level in order to counteract the most egregious forms of oppression.
The Legal Clinic is run by a unit of local (Palestinian) lawyers and provides information regarding the Kafkaesque bureaucratic realities Jerusalem residents face, services and legal training to Jerusalemite Rights Holders. Legal advocacy addresses the following issues:
- Land planning and housing
- Child arrests and accusations
- Human rights activists or organisations targeted by Israeli authorities
- Residency status, National Insurance and municipal Kafkaesque bureaucracy
- Workers’ rights - including private employment agencies
- Help new initiatives register legally when it is part of their development strategy