ISRAEL-PALESTINE: Al-Haq human rights lawyer based in The Hague receives death threats, as attacks against the organisation escalate
March 4, 2016 - A human rights lawyer based in The Hague, Netherlands, who works
for the prominent Palestinian human rights organisation Al-Haq, has received
multiple death threats over the past week. These threats follow an escalation
in attacks and threats on Al-Haq that started in September 2015. The Observatory for the Protection of Human
Rights Defenders (a joint FIDH-OMCT programme) expresses its utmost concern and
call on all competent authorities to ensure that Al-Haq is able to pursue its
essential work in the defence of human rights.
Over the past months,
Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights organisation based in Ramallah in the West
Bank, which has been defending human rights and promoting the rule of law in
the occupied Palestinian territory since 1979, has been the target of an
increasing number of attacks. In February 2016, the level of attacks escalated,
directly targeting Al-Haq's representative before the International Criminal
Court (ICC) in the Hague. On March 1, 2016, another death threat was directed
to her and to Al-Haq's General Director, Mr. Shawan Jabarin, also FIDH
Vice-President, via an anonymous phone call. In the past weeks, many of
Al-Haq's staff members noted unidentified interferences in their e-mails and
mobile phones, and found their accounts hacked. Al-Haq has also been subjected
to a series of cyber attacks via emails containing Trojan horse viruses which,
if not dealt with expediently, would have corrupted files as well as granted
access to Al-Haq's database.
The complexity of these attacks confirm that they
could only have been perpetrated by an entity with very sophisticated IT
coordinated attacks against Al-Haq aim at intimidating the organisation that
pressured the 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. All acts of harassment and intimidation must
immediately stop”, said
Karim Lahidji, FIDH President.
smear campaign started in September 2015, with several of Al-Haq’s European
donors receiving false letters sent by an alleged official of the
Palestinian Authority (PA), claiming that Al-Haq was being investigated by the
consulting firm Ernst & Young for “financial irregularities, corruption, fraud
and misuse of donations and funds”. Later on, the firm and the PA confirmed
that these allegations were false and unfounded in a series of official letters
addressed to Al-Haq in November 2015.
is clearly targeted for its critical work in advocating, documenting and
monitoring human rights violations in the Palestinian territory. It is
fundamental to stand by this pivotal human rights organisation in the face of
these attacks to ensure it can pursue its essential activities in the defence of
the rights of the Palestinian people”, said Gerald Staberock, Secretary General
of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).
The increase of attacks
coincided with the 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, there have been direct attacks on Al-Haq from the Israeli
Minister of Justice, several Israeli newspapers and Israeli organisations and
institutions both at the local level and abroad. The Observatory is concerned
that such attacks may have triggered the serious attacks made against Al Haq
and its staff since September 2015 and urges the Israeli authorities to
guarantee an enabling environment for human rights defenders, including those who
defend the rights of the Palestinian people, pursuant to its international
human rights commitments.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights
Defenders (OBS) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against
Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or
remedy to situations of repression against human rights defenders.