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Israel/OPT
15.02.21
Urgent Interventions

Israel/OPT: Conviction of Issa Amro, founder and coordinator of the Youth Against Settlements group in Hebron

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

ISR 001 / 0221 / OBS 021
Sentencing /
Judicial harassment
Israel / Occupied Palestinian Territory
February 15, 2021

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your intervention in the following situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed about the conviction and judicial harassment of Issa Amro, founder and coordinator of the Youth Against Settlements group in Hebron (southern West Bank), an action group which seeks to end the building and expanding of illegal Israeli settlements through non-violent popular struggle, civil resistance and documentation of human rights violations.

On January 6, 2021, an Israeli judge at the Ofer Military Court convicted Issa Amro on six counts, including “participating in a rally without a permit”, “obstructing a soldier”, and “assault”. One count of obstruction relates to a non-violent sit-in protest in 2012 calling to re-open the old Hebron municipality building. One count of “assault” by “shoving someone” relates to a previously closed case from 2010, where Issa Amro asserts he was the one assaulted.

The Observatory notes that originally, the indictment first presented in 2016, included 18 charges related to Mr. Amro’s community organising, including his participation in the peaceful “Open Shuhada Street” demonstration in 2016 and in a demonstration on March 20, 2013 in Al-Shuhada St. in Hebron to call for an end to Israeli human rights violations.

On January 26, 2021, the UN Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders and on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967 issued a statement condemning Mr. Amro’s conviction.

On February 8, 2021, during the sentencing hearing of Mr. Amro in front of the Ofer military court, the prosecution asked for a suspended jail sentence and a fine of an amount that has not been determined yet. The military judge will decide on the specific terms and conditions of the sentence over the next few weeks.

In another case that is considered before Palestinian courts, Issa Amro is facing charges including “sectarian incitement”, “threatening state security” and “creating websites” (Article 20 of the Cybercrime Act[1]). The charges stem from a Facebook post in September 2017 in which Issa Amro criticised the arrest of a journalist, a critic of President Mahmoud Abbas, by the Palestinian Authority (PA) the previous day, on the same grounds. Issa Amro appeared before the Palestinian court on January 27, 2021. However, his trial was postponed to an unknown date.

The Observatory recalls that Issa Amro has continuously been subjected to arbitrary arrests and detentions, death threats, ill-treatments and movement restrictions over the past several years for his activities denouncing land-related human rights violations arising from the Israeli occupation in the West Bank.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the conviction and sentencing of Issa Amro, which seem to be only aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities, including peaceful protest, as well as preventing him from engaging in any human rights activities in the future.

The Observatory calls on the Israeli’s authorities to put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Issa Amro and all other human rights defenders in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Israel urging them to :

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Issa Amro, as well as all human rights defenders in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory;

ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Issa Amro, and all the human rights defenders in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iii. Ensure that all judicial proceedings against Issa Amro are carried out in full compliance with the right to a fair trial as protected under international law.

Addresses:

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Israel in your respective countries.

***

Paris-Geneva, February 15, 2021

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) 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 situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu , the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

  • E-mail: appeals@fidh-omct.org
  • Tel FIDH: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
  • Tel OMCT: + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39

[1] Article 20 of the Palestinian Cybercrimes Law states that “If any news exposing the safety of the State is put at risk, the publisher shall be punished by imprisonment for a period not less than one year and a fine of between 1,000 and 5,000 JD.”

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