Attacks against Al-Haq’s representative in Europe, Ms. Nada Kiswanson

ISR 001 / 0816 / OBS 071
Threats / Defamation
Israel / Occupied Palestinian Territory
/ The Netherlands
August 11, 2016

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory / The Netherlands .

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about ongoing, well-organised and serious attacks, including death threats, interference in communications, intimidation, harassment and defamation against Ms. Nada Kiswanson, a human rights lawyer based in the Hague, in the Netherlands, who represents Al-Haq in Europe and before the International Criminal Court (ICC). Al-Haq is a Palestinian non-governmental organisation established in 1979 and dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights and the rule of law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

According to the information received, Ms. Kiswanson has been the subject of a sophisticated pattern of attacks since February 2016. Ms. Kiswanson and her family have received frequent phone calls, emails and messages through other means that explicitly and indirectly threaten her life and security. In most instances, those delivering the threats have identified themselves by a single false name. However, in some instances Ms. Kiswanson and persons around her have been contacted by individuals impersonating representatives of intergovernmental and international organisations and a Dutch ministry.

In the latest incident, in August 2016, Ms. Kiswanson received a message over an encryption program linked to a prepaid number stating that she was “not safe at all and hopefully this would remain”. This threatening message follows a serious incident in February 2016 when a close family member of Ms. Kiswanson was told by a person who identified himself by a false name that Ms. Kiswanson would be ‘’eliminated’’ should she not stop working. On other occasions in March 2016, Ms. Kiswanson was told that there was a great danger over her and Al-Haq Director and FIDH Vice President Mr. Shawan Jabarin. And in July 2016 Ms. Kiswanson was contacted by the known source of the threat over the phone of a close family member in Jordan. In that threatening call she was told that her whereabouts as well as her possible plans to travel to Palestine were known. She was also told that the source of the threat was ready to meet with her in Palestine.

In another attempt to undermine the credibility of Al-Haq and Ms. Kiswanson, estimated thousands of fabricated flyers stamped with Al-Haq’s logo and stating Ms. Kiswanson’s personal details were handed out in her extended neighbourhood. The flyers falsely described Al-Haq as an organisation associated with religious endeavours in the Netherlands. The flyers also called for donations to be placed at the home of Ms. Kiswanson.

The attacks against Ms. Kiswanson demonstrate a high level of technological sophistication coupled with global reach. Ms. Kiswanson has been contacted through channels in various European countries, in particular the Netherlands. The source of the threat has also managed to retrieve several prepaid numbers that should be untraceable. The attacks have also required financial backing.

Ms. Kiswanson has informed the appropriate authorities in the Netherlands of the attacks against her and a police investigation is ongoing.

The Observatory strongly condemns the coordinated attacks against Ms. Kiswanson. These attacks aim at intimidating the organisation that pressured the Palestinian Authority (PA) to join the ICC and that submitted together with Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, Aldameer and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) communications to the ICC Prosecutor’s Office urging it to open an investigation.

In light of the continued attacks endured by Ms. Kiswanson , her family and members of Al-Haq, the Observatory urges all competent authorities in Israel to investigate the situation and to comply with the relevant international norms and standards, including the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in order to create an environment where human rights defenders can operate freely. The authorities in Israel should in particular refrain from making any depreciating comments on human rights defenders and publicly support the important role played by human rights defenders, including those critical of the country’s human rights record.

The Observatory also urges the Dutch authorities to continue their investigation and to ensure that appropriate measures are put in place to protect human rights defenders in the Netherlands, in particular by issuing a public statement condemning these specific threats and all those against human rights defenders in the Netherlands (including those working on the ICC) and by creating and putting in place a mechanism to protect NGO representatives working in The Netherlands (including on the ICC).

Background information: [1]

Since 2015, Al-Haq has been the target of an intense smear campaign and threats. In particular, a smear campaign based on the allegation that there was fraud and corruption within Al-Haq was launched in September 2015. It was claimed that this allegation stemmed from within the consulting firm Ernst & Young and the Palestinian Authority. Since then, the State of Palestine and Ernst & Young have confirmed that this allegation is false and unfounded.

On November 23, 2015 and on February 10, 2016, Al Haq submitted together with Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, Aldameer and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) communications to the ICC Prosecutor’s Office urging it to open an investigation.

At the beginning of 2016, many of Al-Haq’s staff members noted unidentified interferences in their e-mails and mobile phones, and found their accounts hacked. Al-Haq was also subjected to a series of cyber-attacks via emails containing Trojan horse viruses. On several occasions, confidential information was also circulated to staff, donors and partners.

In February 2016, the level of attacks escalated, directly targeting Ms. Kiswanson and Mr. Shawan Jabarin.

The increased attacks against Al-Haq coincide with progress achieved at the level of the ICC and decisions at the EU level regarding the labelling of settlement products. As a result of such advances, several Israeli newspapers, organisations and institutions have attacked Al-Haq and sought to discredit the organisation. Notably, the Israeli Minister of Justice has taken deliberate steps towards ensuring that donors do not fund Al-Haq and defamed the organisation [2].

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Israel urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Nada Kiswanson and Mr. Shawan Jabarin, as well as all human rights defenders in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory;

ii. Carry out an immediate, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned events, the result of which must be made public, in order to bring all those responsible before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal and apply penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law and in order to put an end to the harassment faced by Al-Haq members ;

iii. Comply with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular Articles 1, 5(c), 6, 8.2, 9.3(a) and 12.2;

iv. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the OPT in accordance with international human rights instruments.


· Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, Office of the Prime Minister, 3 Kaplan St., PO Box 187, Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem 91950, Israel. Fax: + 972 2 651 2631 / 02-670-5475. Email:,

· Ms. Ayelet Shaked; Minister of Justice; Fax: 02-6285438 E-mail:

· Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Tel: 972-2-5303111; Fax: 972-2-5303367

· H.E. Ambassador Mr. Eviatar Manor, Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations in Geneva, Avenue de la Paix 1-3, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 716 05 55. Email:

· H.E. Ambassador Simona Frankel; Embassy of Israel in Belgium and Luxembourg, Avenue de l’Observatoire 40, 1180 Brussels, Belgium; Fax: +32 2 373.56.17; Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Israel in your respective country.

Read more