On 19 August 2021, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defender Mary Lawlor issued a statement concerning Israel’s escalating crackdown against human rights defenders across the occupied Palestinian territory. The statement addressed multiple prominent cases of arbitrary arrests, harassment, criminalization, and threats against human rights defenders in the oPt, and followed recent submissions to the working group by Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association and the Palestinian Human Rights Council, on behalf of Salah Hammouri and Shatha Odeh.
Salah Hammouri, a Palestinian-French human rights defender and lawyer at Addameer, risks the revocation of his permanent residency in Jerusalem following Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked’s announcement to move forth with such recommendations based on a “breach of allegiance.” The proposed revocation, cited by Mary Lawlor, comes amid continued Israeli harassment against Mr. Hammouri and his family, including previous arbitrary arrests, a travel ban from entering the West Bank, and the deportation of his wife, Elsa Lefort, a French national.
Ms. Lawlor further denounced the arbitrary detention of Shatha Odeh, General Director of the Health Work Committee (HWC), Juana Ruiz Sánchez, and Tayseer Abu Sharbak, “I am shocked that members of the Health Work Committee, who provide health services to Palestinians living in remote areas of the West Bank, were arrested, interrogated and may be criminalized because of their human rights work.” In the statement, she called for the “release of all three human rights defenders immediately,” as well as an investigation into allegations of ill-treatment.
Shatha Odeh’s health is extremely compromised, wherein she suffers from numerous chronic illnesses, has been subjected to ill-treatment, and denied access to many of her medications. Juana Ruiz Sánchez has been detained since 13 April 2021 and was placed in solitary confinement. The most recent detention of Shatha Odeh serves as the latest escalation of attacks by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) against the HWC, and more broadly, Palestinian civil society and human rights defenders.
In outlining the increasingly perilous conditions for human rights defenders, the statement further cites the arbitrary arrest and detention of Farid Al-Atrash, a human rights defender and lawyer at the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), along with the arrest and interrogation of human rights defenders Muna Al-Kurd, Mohammed Al-Kurd and Zuhair Al Rajabi, who continue to protest the forced expulsion of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
Addameer reaffirms the UN experts’ call against the harassment, targeting, and arrests of Palestinian human rights defenders by the Israeli occupation regime, including the call for the immediate release of detained human rights defenders Shatha Odeh, Juana Ruiz Sánchez, and Tayseer Abu Sharbak.
Addameer further calls for the cessation of all practices and policies intended to intimidate and silence human rights defenders, in violation of their right to freedom of expression, including through arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment, institutionalized hate speech and incitement, residency revocation, deportations, and other coercive or punitive measures.
Read the full statement on the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner website here.
The call was further endorsed by UN Human Rights experts including Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967; Melissa Upreti, Dorothy Estrada-Tanck, Elizabeth Broderick, Ivana Radačić, Meskerem Geset from the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls; Reem Alsalem, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; and Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.