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Israel/OPT
31.08.22
Statements

Israel/OPT: End arbitrary detention against human rights lawyer Salah Hammouri

JOINT STATEMENT

We, the undersigned organizations, unions, and institutions, condemn and reject the arbitrary measures taken by the Israeli occupation forces against human rights defender and lawyer at Addameer, violating its obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law.

For many years, Salah Hammouri has been subjected to a continuous harassment campaign by the occupation forces due to his human rights activism. Mr. Hammouri has spent nine years in Israeli occupation prisons as a result of over six arrests. The longest stretch he spent in an occupation prison was seven continuous years between 2005 and 2011, after he was forced to choose between being deported to France for 15 years or imprisoned for 7. Since the beginning of March 2022, the Israeli occupation forces have held Mr. Hammouri in their prisons without charge under the administrative detention system, based on a secret file that even his lawyer is not permitted to view. These actions make his detention arbitrary and illegal under international law.

The occupation forces have taken several additional acts against Mr. Hammouri in attempt to deport him from Jerusalem. Most recently, in October 2021, they issued a decision to revoke his Jerusalem residency for charges of not showing loyalty to the State of Israel, which was also based on “secret evidence.” Thereafter, they have tried to enforce the decision by attempting to deport him to France; where he holds citizenship. Mr. Hammouri’s wife and children currently reside in France because the occupation authorities have prevented them from entering the occupied territories, thus depriving him of his right to have his family reside with him.

When Mr. Hammouri is released, he fears he will be forcibly removed and deported from his home city of Jerusalem. The Israeli Supreme Court is scheduled to hear Mr. Hammouri’s residency revocation case in February 2023.

The harmful actions taken against Mr.Hammouri are important to be understood for two primary reasons:

  • First, revoking his Jerusalem residency for not showing loyalty to the occupying state based on “secret evidence” represents an unprecedented Israeli measure against Arab and Palestinian presence in Jerusalem. This is a community that is already suffering from escalating settlement projects and attempts to Judaize the city by erasing Palestinian presence, despite the occupation’s illegality under international law. Passing this precedent against Mr. Hammouri means opening the door for the Israeli occupation forces to expel any Palestinian Jerusalemite from the city by revoking their Jerusalem residency based on purely “secret evidence.” This will provide a new, powerful tool for Israel to reduce the number of Palestinians in Jerusalem without needing to provide any legal justification.
  • Second, Mr. Hammouri is a target because he is a human rights defender and a lawyer for Palestinian prisoners. This means that Israel is waging a war against human rights defenders, both as individuals and groups, completing what it started by labelling six Palestinian human rights organizations as terrorist groups including Addameer where Mr. Hammouri works. In fact, Israel previously personally targeted Mr. Hammouri for being a human rights worker by hacking his mobile phone and installing Pegasus software developed by Israeli cybersecurity company NSO. Through these practices, Israel seeks to convey a message to all peaceful activists and human rights defenders that they have no immunity and can be subjected to family separation, arbitrary detention, and even expulsion from the country.

In addition, although Mr. Hammouri holds French citizenship, the French government has not played any effective role in pressing for his release from this arbitrary detention. The Israeli government recently placed Mr. Hammouri in a collective isolation confinement as a punishment for sending a letter to French President Manuel Macron asking him to help with his release. Since then, the French government has not taken any public action to assist him such as condemning the detention or calling on the Israeli occupation authorities to immediately release him. Instead, they merely visited him and asked the Israeli government to “respect his rights.” These actions are clearly insufficient, not in line with the usual response of French authorities in cases of arbitrary detection of French citizens and does not demonstrate a strong enough political will to hold the Israeli authorities accountable.

Accordingly, the organizations, unions, institutions, and human rights bodies that have signed this statement, alongside the Justice for Salah campaign, affirm the following:

We reject the harassment and arbitrary violations the Israeli occupation forces are subjecting Salah Hammouri to as punishment for his human rights work and to discourage him, and all human rights defenders, from continuing to defend Palestinians and criticize Israeli violations. We specifically:

  • Condemn and reject the practice of administrative detention, emphasizing its violation of provisions of international law. Thus, we call for the immediate release of all administrative detainees, including Salah Hammouri. We affirm that Israel’s administrative detention practices violate the text of Articles 42 and 78 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, permits administrative detention only for necessary and compelling reasons to maintain its exceptional nature. Contrarily, Israel practices administrative detention in a systematic and repeated manner for undisclosed “secret reasons,” making these detentions arbitrary ones. Therefore, this practice also violates Article 75 of Protocol I annexed to the 1977 Geneva Conventions, which is, in itself, part of customary international law.
  • Condemn and reject the Israeli decision to revoke the Mr. Hammouri’s Jerusalem residency based on a secret file and allegations of disloyalty to the occupying power. We emphasize that this is a violation of the international law per Article 43 of the Hague Convention on the Rules of Land War 1907 and Article 64 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which prohibit an occupying power to act as the owner of sovereignty over the occupied territory. Israel’s practices also violate Articles 45 of the Hague Convention and 68 (3) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibit an occupying power from demanding loyalty from the inhabitants of the occupied territory. Furthermore, this is illegal in international humanitarian law as forcibly deporting inhabitants of an occupied territory is considered a war crime under Article 8 of the Rome Statute. In fact, when forcible deportation is part of a widespread and systemic policy against civilians—as it is in Israel—it also is considered a crime against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute. Furthermore, revoking the residency of human rights defenders and others in Jerusalem violates various rules of international human rights law such as the right to family life, the right to freedom of movement, including the right to leave and return to one’s homeland, and the right of expression and peaceful assembly in accordance with Articles 19, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. These deportation practices also contradict declarations made by the UN Security Council and the General Assembly that it is illegal to change the status quo in terms of demographics in the city of Jerusalem. Finally, emptying the city of its Arab residents is a blatant application of the internationally condemned practice of apartheid.
  1. We demand that the French government act effectively and quickly to help secure the release of French citizen Salah Hammouri, denounce and prevent the revocation of his residency and his forced deportation from Jerusalem, and compensate him for the human rights violations he was subjected to.
  2. We demand that the International Criminal Court move the investigation file as soon as possible and prosecute Israel for its grave violations of international humanitarian and criminal law, amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
  3. We call on the United Nations, especially the General Assembly, the Security Council, and the Human Rights Council, to take effective steps to stop Israel’s practices of revoking Jerusalem residencies, emptying the city of its Arab residents, and changing its demographic composition in contravention of the existing legal status.
  4. We demand that world governments activate universal jurisdiction in accordance with Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention to ensure that Israel is held accountable and does not enjoy impunity for the grave violations it commits against Palestinians, including arbitrary detention and forced displacement.
  5. We demand that member states of the international community, world parliaments, and civil society institutions work to pressure Israel to respect human rights work. We ask these states and organizations to help provide protection to the Palestinian people and human rights workers, document violations of international law committed by the occupation, and seek international accountability.

Signatories:

  1. Law for Palestine – UK.
  2. Al Haq Organization – Law in the Service of Mankind. Palestine
  3. Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development. ARDD. Jordan
  4. American Center for Justice (ACJ). USA
  5. Jemez Peacemakers. New Mexico USA
  6. Palestine Arab Relief and Development Authority. Palestine
  7. Centre for Human Rights Research & Advocacy (CENTHRA). Malaysia
  8. Geneva International Centre for Justice. Switzerland
  9. L’association des palestiniens d’Ile de France
  10. Union d’Associations Palestiniennes en France
  11. Canadian BDS Committee
  12. Just Peace Advocates
  13. Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
  14. Bisan Center for Research and Development
  15. Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P)
  16. Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC).
  17. Belgian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (BACBI)
  18. Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign
  19. BDS Korea
  20. Oakville Palestinian Rights Association
  21. Human Rights for All ( HR4A) Saskatchewan
  22. French Jewish Union for Peace
  23. Association Belgo-Palestinienne WB
  24. Association France Palestine Solidarité
  25. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
  26. FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  27. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  28. Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
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