Human Rights Defenders

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ARREST AND PROSECUTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

June 2016

The UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders defines human rights defenders as individuals who play an important role in furthering the cause of human rights through activities such as the documentation of violations, providing support and assistance to victims seeking remedies, combating cultures of impunity and mainstreaming human rights culture and information on an international and domestic level. Human Rights Defenders in the occupied Palestinian territory face various types of harassment and rights violations by the occupation forces, irrespective of the protection afforded to them in international conventions, and particularly the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Since Oct 2015, the occupation forces intensified prosecution of human rights defenders in the occupied Palestinian territory, aiming to silence them and punish them for their role in exposing violations and crimes perpetrated against the Palestinian people.

Palestinians who organize and participate in protests and demonstrations against the Separation Wall and settlements are widely recognized as human rights defenders, due to their efforts to engage civil society in peaceful methods of resistance aimed at ending Israel’s violations of human rights and international law and its practices of land confiscation, house demolitions and movement restrictions on the Palestinian population. Israel has adopted a policy of arrest, detention, intimidation, threats and, at times, collective punishment against communities who take part in weekly demonstrations and other non-violent actions against the Wall and settlements. Leading Palestinian human rights activists, prominent figures, such as mayors and teachers, and members of the Popular Committees, who are instrumental in coordinating weekly protests and advocacy efforts including legal cases, are often personally targeted and arrested in an attempt to sideline them from organizing the protests, or to discredit them and their efforts. Local cameramen and photographers, as well as members of the press, are also targeted. In 2011, there were at least 295 documented cases of arrest of human rights defenders, 58 of whom were under the age of 18.
 
Some of the protestors and human rights defenders are prosecuted in the Israeli Military Courts under Military order 101 which was issued by the Israeli military commander in August 1967 and is still in effect in the occupied West Bank despite the Oslo Agreement and the beginning of the Peace Process. Military order 101 criminalizes many civic activities including: organizing and participating in  protests; taking part in assemblies or vigils; waving flags and other political symbols; printing and distributing of political material. In addition, the order deems any acts of influencing public opinion as prohibited “political incitement”. Under the heading “support to a hostile organization”, the order further prohibits any activity that demonstrates sympathy for an organization deemed illegal under military orders, be it chanting slogans, waving a flag or other political symbols.
 
Despite the lack of evidence or independent witnesses, and the vague or empty basis of the charges levied against human rights defenders, the vast majority of activists will be found guilty of committing a “security offense” and sentenced to a term of imprisonment. In the Israeli military courts, the accused’s inalienable right to due process is never upheld. Soldiers’ testimonies and, occasionally, photos of individuals at a demonstration, are very often sufficient for an individual to be found guilty of an offense under the military orders that govern the West Bank. Moreover, if the detainee has been coerced into signing a confession, they will invariably be sentenced and serve time in a military jail.
 
The Israeli occupation forces arrested 8 Palestinian journalists since the beginning of 2016, bringing the number of journalists detained in Israeli jails to 21 journalists. These arrests and prosecutions reached dozens of human rights activists, most of which were detained under administrative detention orders; this includes Addameer colleague and media coordinator Hasan Safadi, who was arrested on 01/05/2016 while crossing Al-Karameh bridge on his way to Palestine.
 
Human rights defenders who have been arrested and detained include Khalida Jarrar, a Palestinian Legislative Council Member, who was arrested on the 2nd of April 2015, and hunger striking administrative detainee Mohammad Al-Qeiq. Human rights defenders face ongoing forms of indiscriminate and arbitrary punishment long after they have been released. Requests from them and their families for permits from the Israeli authorities are consistently denied, they face targeted persecution and intimidation, detention and questioning at checkpoints, defamation, and, in some cases, re-arrest. 
 

Following is a table of journalists arrested by the occupation forces until 20 June 2016: 

Name

Place of Residence

Place of Work

Type of Arrest

Date of Arrest

Ahmad Fathi Khatib

Tulkarem

Photo in Al-Aqsa Channel

Administrative Detention

04/07/2014

Hammam Atili

Tulkarem

Media Student in Najah National University

Charges

12/08/2014

Ali Oweiwi

Hebron

 

Administrative Detention

21/10/2015

Mujahed Al-Sadi

Jeinen

Correspondent for Palestine Today TV

Detained

12/01/2016

Mohammed Mahmoud Issa

Jerusalem

Correspondent for Sawt Al-Haq Wal Hurriya

Life sentence

1993

Salah Addin Awwad

Nablus

Director  of the media department at Prisoners’ Club

7 years

2011

Anan Samir Ajawi

Jenin

 

3 years and a half

16/01/2013

Ahmad Al-Saifi

Ramallah

Media Student at Birzeit University

19 years

19/08/2009

Walid Khaled

Salfit

Director of Palestine Newspaper

4 years

10/03/2013

Qutayba Qasem

Hebron

Correspondent for Asda’a Al-Sahafi

Detained

10/12/2014

Amir Abu Hleil

Hebron

Media Student at Al-Quds University

Detained  

25/01/2015

Mohammad Atta

Ramallah

Media Student at Al-Quds University

Detained

27/01/2015

Sami Al-Sa’ai

Tulkarem

Correspondent for Fajr Al-Mahali

Administrative Detention

09/03/2016

Samah Dweik

Jerusalem

Hurra

Detained

10/04/2016

Musab Qafisheh

Hebron

Media Student

Administrative Detention

29/03/2016

Omar Nazzal

Ramallah

Freelancer

Administrative Detention

23/04/2016

Hasan Safadi

Jerusalem

Addameer Media Coordinator

Administrative Detention

01/05/2016

Bassam Al-Sayeh

Nablus

 

Detained

08/10/2015

Adeeb Al-Atrash

Hebron

Freelancer

Detained

20/06/2016

Nasser Khaseb

Ramallah

Lecturer at Birzeit University

Detained

20/06/2016

Cases of Travel Ban and Ban of Entry into the West Bank 

The occupation forces prosecuted a number of human rights defenders and employees in human rights organizations during the year 2014, imposing a set of arbitrary measures, including summoning them for purposes of interrogation, threatening them, handing them military orders that prevent them from commuting across the West Bank, and preventing them from leaving the occupied Palestinian territory under security pretences. The occupation state sought to stop human rights defenders from communicating with international organizations and submitting their testimonies before fact-finding missions on violations and crimes committed by the occupation forces in the occupied Palestinian territory, a clear denial of the protection afforded to them by means of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders 1998.

The occupation forces continue to prevent the chairperson of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Mr. Abdul Latif Gaith, from commuting between Jerusalem and the remainder of the West Bank, where the premises of the organization is located, for the fourth year in a row. This has been through eight orders issued between 9 October 2011 and 15 March 2015 that prevent Mr. Abdul Latif Gaith from entering the West Bank for six months.

The latest of these orders extends from 15 March 2014 to 15 September 2015. The orders that prevent movement are issued by a decision from the general in the occupation army Nitsan Alon, under pretences of compelling security reasons that entail preventing Mr. Abdul Latif Gaith from commuting in order to maintain the security of the region and public order.

Travel Ban 

The occupation forces continue to ban Mr. Abdul Latif Gaith from leaving the occupied Palestinian territory for security reasons; these decisions are made without clarification of the security reasons, and the threat that he may pose on the national security of the occupation state and forces if he were allowed to travel.

On 24 September 2014, the intelligence of the occupation forces summoned Mr. Gaith to their headquarters in occupied Jerusalem and handed him an order that renews the ban on his travel. The travel ban commences on 24 September 2014 and extends to 23 February 2015. It was also mentioned in the travel ban order that this is an extension of an order issued on 21 August 2014, which Mr. Gaith insists that he did not receive nor sign.

Arrest of Three Female Prisoners Liberated in Wafa' Al-Ahrar Exchange 

In 2014, the occupation forces arrested three of the female prisoners (Shirin Issawi, Bushra Al-Tawil and Muna Ka'adan) that were liberated in the “Wafa Al-Ahrar” exchange, raising the number of prisoners that were arrested after being liberated and are now in the occupation prisons to three. It is noticeable concerning the arrest of female prisoners liberated in the Wafa Al-Ahrar Exchange that the occupation forces are targeting female Palestinian activists who have been repeatedly arrested for their participation in solidarity activities with the prisoners and detainees. The occupation, therefore, continued to target and arrest women that are active in human rights issues, particularly female activists on issues concerned with prisoners and female prisoners in the occupation prison. This targeting is part of the occupation policy of persecuting activists that advocate for and defend the issues of the prisoners, which is in contravention with of the guarantees in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders issued by the United Nations General Assembly in 1998, which recognizes the right and responsibility of individuals, groups, and associations to promote respect for human rights and basic freedoms, as well as enhancement of knowledge about it at the national and global levels.

 
 

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