Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst (Excerpts)



  1. JAL 27/02/2017 Case no: ISR 2/2017 State reply: none to date

Allegations of ill-treatment and beatings, arbitrary detention, and restrictions on the freedom of expression and association against Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC) human rights defenders working in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

  1. JAL 03/03/2017 Case no: ISR 3/2017                          State reply: 24/05/2017

Allegations of reprisals for cooperation as well as restrictions on the freedom of expression and association in denying a work visa for the Director of Israel and Palestine of Human Rights Watch.

  1. JAL 12/05/2017 Case no: ISR 6/2017                          State reply: none to date

Allegations of restrictions on freedom of expression and opinion and freedom of peaceful assembly and association for human rights defenders associated with the “Dismantle the Ghetto, Take Settlers out of Hebron” campaign in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

  1. JAL 08/11/2017 Case no: ISR 9/2017                          State reply: none to date

Allegations of a physical attack against the human rights defender, Mr. Imad Abu Shamsiyya, while he attended a peaceful pray-in at Khirbet Qilqis in the south of Hebron, as well as allegations of subsequent threats against the human rights defender posted on social media.

  1. Press release 16/12/2016

Israel: Human rights defenders under growing legal pressure in the OPT – UN rights experts.

  1. Press release 03/03/2017

Israel: UN rights experts denounce Israel’s growing constraints on human rights defenders.

  1. Press release 07/07/2017

Israel: UN human rights experts call on Israel to reconsider the charges against Palestinian activist Issa Amro.

  1. The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Israel for its response to the communication sent on 3 March 2017 and recognizes the substantial nature of the reply. He regrets, however, that no response has been received from the Government to the other communications sent during the reporting period. He encourages the Government to fully engage with the mandate holders of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council and to provide responses to all communications sent.
  2. The Special Rapporteur continues to remain alarmed by the particular situation of human rights defenders and civil activists working in the Occupied Palestinian Territory who face regular violations of their rights, including arrests and detention, as a direct result of their important work in their communities. He expresses concern over the alleged arbitrary detention of human rights defenders due to their participation in peaceful protests. The Special Rapporteur is wary of the usage of “closed military zones” as a tool to curtail the defenders’ freedom of assembly and urges the Government to permit such demonstrations. In this regard he wishes to remind the Government of its obligations under article 21 ICCPR, ratified by Israel on 3 October 1991, which recognizes the right of peaceful assembly.
  3. The Special Rapporteur rests preoccupied by the continued use of military courts in the prosecution of civilians, including human rights defenders, and recalls Human Rights Committee General Comment No. 32 on article 14 ICCPR, which notes that the trial of civilians in military or special courts may raise serious problems as far as the equitable, impartial and independent administration of justice is concerned.
  4. The Special Rapporteur further expresses grave concern over reports of alleged torture and ill-treatment in detention, along with poor and unsuitable conditions and the withholding of access to medical assistance. He wishes to draw specific attention to the treatment of woman human rights defender Ms. Lema Nazeeh who was allegedly beaten both prior to and during detention. Reports indicate that along with being beaten, Ms. Nazeeh was placed in a solitary dark cell, denied access to water and legal counsel and was subjected to sleep deprivation. The Special Rapporteur additionally notes allegations that during his administrative detention, Mr. Badie Dweik was denied access to necessary medication by prison authorities, despite his having been brought to hospital in Jerusalem concerning a pre-existing medical condition.
  5. The Special Rapporteur wishes to draw final attention to the case of Mr. Imad Abu Shamsiyya, who has allegedly suffered threats and harassment, ostensibly due to his reporting on the extrajudicial killing of a Palestinian man by an Israeli soldier and his peaceful involvement in a pray-in in the south of Hebron. While recording the pray-in on his camera, Mr. Abu Shamsiyya was allegedly asked to stop recording and leave the area by Israeli forces. Following the request, four tear gas canisters were shot directly at him, causing him to lose consciousness. The same day, he was allegedly subjected to threats on Facebook from what appeared to be Israeli extremist groups. Mr. Abu Shamsiyya has previously been the subject of both threats and physical attacks from similar perpetrators.
  6. The Special Rapporteur wishes to restate the importance of the role of human rights defenders in recording human rights violations along with the benefits their activities lend to the creation and maintenance of a healthy, free and democratic society. He also wishes to refer to the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and association, in which he calls on States to “ensure the protection of those monitoring and reporting on violations and abuses in the context of peaceful assemblies” (A/HRC/20/27, para. 94).
  7. The Special Rapporteur wishes to refer to General Assembly resolution 72/247, adopted in November 2017, which stresses that the right of everyone to promote and strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms without retaliation or fear thereof is an essential element in building and maintaining sustainable, open and democratic societies. The resolution calls upon States to take concrete steps to prevent and put an end to arbitrary arrest and detention, including of human rights defenders, and in this regard strongly urges the release of persons detained or imprisoned, in violation of the obligations and commitments under international human rights law, for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms.



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