Ongoing travel restrictions imposed on Mr. Shawan Jabarin - ISR 001 / 0607 / OBS 069.3

12/04/2010
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by Al-Haq about ongoing travel restrictions imposed on Mr. Shawan Jabarin, Al-Haq’s General Director.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

According to the information received, on March 28, 2010, Mr. Shawan Jabarin was denied exit from the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) by Israeli forces as he attempted to travel to Cairo to attend a regional meeting on human rights protection at the Cairo Centre for Human Rights. Mr. Jabarin was held at the Israeli-controlled Allenby Bridge for two hours before being informed by the Israeli forces that he was not permitted to leave the OPT.

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the ongoing travel restrictions against Mr. Shawan Jabarin, which seem to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities, and recalls that Mr. Jabarin has been subjected to a travel ban since he was appointed as General Director of Al-Haq, in 2006. The ban, imposed for an indefinite period, is justified by the Israeli military and judicial authorities on the basis of ‘secret evidence’ denied to Mr. Shawan and his legal representatives. The Observatory also recalls that on three occasions the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ) dismissed petitions brought by Mr. Jabarin and challenging the lawfulness of the ban (See background information).

The Observatory believes that such travel restrictions unfairly and arbitrarily impair Mr. Shawan Jabarin’s ability and the ability of Al-Haq to address regional and international organisations and fora about human rights concerns in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, thus violating Article 9.5 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to unhindered access to and communication with international bodies with general or special competence to receive and consider communications on matters of human rights and fundamental freedoms”, as well as Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), ratified by Israel in 1991, which includes the right to leave one’s own country[1].

The Observatory also denounces the secret evidence procedure adopted by the HCJ in this case, which violates basic due process principles and fair trial standards guaranteed under international human rights law in general, and in the ICCPR in particular[2].

The Observatory urges the Israeli authorities to put an end to any kind of harassment against Mr. Shawan Jabarin. In accordance with article 11 of the European Union (EU) Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, the Observatory also calls upon the European Commission Delegation as well as EU member-States’ missions in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to urge the Israeli authorities 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.

Background information:

Since March 23, 2006, when the Israeli authorities confiscated Mr. Shawan Jabarin’s travel documents with no official reason, they have rejected all the applications for business trips authorisations that he has submitted, including when he was invited by international NGOs.

Since then, the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ) rejected all his petitions aiming at putting an end to his travel ban and to enable him to attend international conferences or human rights activities abroad. In all its decisions, the Court argues that Mr. Jabarin’s trips abroad could represent a risk for national security, on account of his alleged political affiliations - without this argument being proved.

On July 3, 2008, the new petition filed with the HCJ by Mr. Jabarin to overturn the arbitrary travel ban that the Israeli military authorities have imposed on him since March 2006 and for him to be able to attend a number of international conferences and events to which he was invited later in the year, was heard by the Court. On July 7, 2008, the Court dismissed the petition, on the basis of “secret evidence” allegedly showing that Mr. Jabarin is an active member of a “terrorist” organisation.

On February 12, 2009, the HCJ rejected the petition brought by Mr. Jabarin to leave the country to participate in the awards ceremony on behalf of the organisation he heads in the Netherlands. After this review, and without Mr. Jabarin and his lawyer being able to examine the proofs or to be informed of their substance, the Court confirmed that the plaintiff would not be able to travel.

On March 10, 2009, the HCJ issued a decision to dismiss the petition brought by Mr. Shawan Jabarin challenging the arbitrary, indefinite and unconditional travel ban imposed on him by the Israeli military authorities, which prevents him from leaving the West Bank[3]. In two hearings held on March 5 and 9, 2009 - parts of which were conducted ex parte (with the only presence of a three-judge panel, the State Attorney, and members of the Israeli General Security Services (GSS)) - the judges, who heard the arguments and reviewed the evidence presented to it, made repeated attempts to resolve the matter by exploring the possibility of a “limited travel permit or a ‘creative’ solution that partially realises the petitioner’s ability to enjoy his right to freedom of movement”, but the GSS refused to alter their position.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Israel urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Shawan Jabarin;

ii. Lift the travel ban imposed on Mr. Shawan Jabarin, as it sanctions his human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to any kind of harassment against Mr. Shawan Jabarin and all human rights defenders in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their work without hindrances;

iv. Comply with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, above-mentioned Article 9.5 and Article 12(2), which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the [...] Declaration”;

v. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the country and the Occupied Palestinian Territories in accordance with international human rights instruments ratified by Israel, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Addresses:

· Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister, 3 Kaplan Street, PO Box 187, Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem 91919, Israel. Fax: + 972 2 651 2631 / 02-670-5475, E-mail: rohm@pmo.gov.il, pm_eng@pmo.gov.il

· Mr. Ehud Barak, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Ministry of Defence, 37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya, Tel Aviv 61909, Israel. Fax: +972 3 691 6940, Email: minister@mod.gov.il

· Mr. Avigdor Lieberman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 9 Yitzhak Rabin Boulevard, Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem 91035, Israel. Fax: +972 2 628 7757 / +972 2 628 8618 / + 972-2-5303367. Email: sar@mfa.gov.il

· Mr. Yaakov Ne’eman, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice, 29 Salah al-Din Street, Jerusalem 91010, Israel. Fax: + 972 2 628 7757 / + 972 2 628 8618 / + 972 2 530 3367. Email: sar@justice.gov.il / tifereth@justice.gov.il

· Ambassador Aharon Leshno-Yaar, Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations in Geneva, Avenue de la Paix 1-3, CH-1202, Geneva, Switzerland, E-mail: mission-israel@geneva.mfa.gov.il, Fax: +41 22 716 05 55

· Embassy of Israel in Brussels, 40 avenue de l’Observatoire, 1180 Uccle, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 373 56 17, Email: brussels@israel.org

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Israel in your respective country as well as to the EU diplomatic missions or embassies in Israel.

***

Geneva-Paris, April 12, 2010

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