Palestinians’ freedom of expression must be respected: UN experts



Sat, 08 Jul 2017 - 09:41 GMT


Sat, 08 Jul 2017 - 09:41 GMT

UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the oPt Michael Lynk (right) - Courtesy of UN.

UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the oPt Michael Lynk (right) - Courtesy of UN.

CAIRO – 8 July 2017: The United Nations (U.N.) Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), Michael Lynk, and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, voiced concerns in a news release on Friday over reactivation of charges – some of which date back a number of years – against Palestinian human rights defender Issa Amro. They urged Israel to strictly abide by international law in its dealings with rights defenders, according to the United Nations.

Lynk and Forst said “on the information available to us, many of the charges against Amro appear to be directed squarely at his lawful right to peacefully protest against the 50-year-old Israeli occupation,” they added “If the Israeli military court convicts Mr. Amro on any of the charges against him, the convictions will be stained by reasonable doubts about the system’s ability to ensure justice,”.

Furthermore, the experts said that “their rights to freedom of expression and assembly must be respected and protected.”

The experts said that the Israeli military court system, which all Palestinians in the West Bank are subject to, has a conviction rate above 99 percent, which raises serious concerns about the system meeting many of the international standards of due process required under international human rights and humanitarian law.

Under the dual Israeli legal systems, Palestinians are prosecuted in military courts, whereas Israeli settlers are prosecuted in civilian courts, with far greater rights and protections.

According to the news release, “Amro and Youth against Settlements have campaigned against the Israeli military’s shutdown of the once-thriving Palestinian neighborhood around Shuhada Street in Hebron, and against illegal Israeli settlements in and near the city. Their activities included running a community centre, organizing protest marches and opposing the many restrictions placed by the military on daily Palestinian life.”

Lynk and Forst’s positions are honorary, they are independent experts appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation.

According to Palestinian prisoners’ rights group ‘Addameer’, “Israel holds 6,200 Palestinian prisoners out of which 490 are held without charge or trial under administrative detention and 300 are minors.”

Furthermore, according to the Military Court Watch association, established in 2013 to monitor the treatment of children in Israeli military detention, “around 800,000 Palestinian men, women and children have been detained since 1967 and over 99% of cases in the military courts end in conviction.”

Photo 1 Adults and Children in Israeli military detention - monthly averages - Military Court Watch

Photo 2 Percentage of detainees held in Israeli in breach of article 76 of Geneva IV - May 2017 - Military Court Watch Association

According to the Military Court Watch association, “The above figures relate only to individuals classified as ‘security prisoners’, an additional number of Palestinians from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza are held as ‘criminal prisoners’. The approximate number of Palestinians held as ‘criminal prisoners’ amounts to an additional 40 percent (adults) and 15 percent (children) on top of the numbers held as ‘security prisoners’.”

The association adds that, since 1967, over 1,700 military orders have been issued but few have been promptly translated into Arabic, as is required under the Fourth Geneva Convention. In theory, these laws have no legal effect until translated.



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