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ISRAEL-PALESTINE: Al-Haq human rights lawyer based in The Hague receives death threats, as attacks against the organisation escalate

Paris-Geneva,March 4, 2016 - A human rights lawyer based in The Hague, Netherlands, who worksfor the prominent Palestinian human rights organisation Al-Haq, has receivedmultiple death threats over the past week. These threats follow an escalationin attacks and threats on Al-Haq that started in September 2015. The Observatory for the Protection of HumanRights Defenders (a joint FIDH-OMCT programme) expresses its utmost concern andcall on all competent authorities to ensure that Al-Haq is able to pursue itsessential work in the defence of human rights.

Over the past months,Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights organisation based in Ramallah in the WestBank, which has been defending human rights and promoting the rule of law inthe occupied Palestinian territory since 1979, has been the target of anincreasing number of attacks. In February 2016, the level of attacks escalated,directly targeting Al-Haq's representative before the International CriminalCourt (ICC) in the Hague. On March 1, 2016, another death threat was directedto her and to Al-Haq's General Director, Mr. Shawan Jabarin, also FIDHVice-President, via an anonymous phone call. In the past weeks, many ofAl-Haq's staff members noted unidentified interferences in their e-mails andmobile phones, and found their accounts hacked. Al-Haq has also been subjectedto a series of cyber attacks via emails containing Trojan horse viruses which,if not dealt with expediently, would have corrupted files as well as grantedaccess to Al-Haq's database.The complexity of these attacks confirm that theycould only have been perpetrated by an entity with very sophisticated ITresources.

“Thesecoordinated attacks against Al-Haq aim at intimidating the organisation thatpressured the PA to join the ICC and that submitted together with Al-MezanCenter 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 mustimmediately stop”, saidKarim Lahidji, FIDH President.

Asmear campaign started in September 2015, with several of Al-Haq’s Europeandonors receiving false letters sent by an alleged official of thePalestinian Authority (PA), claiming that Al-Haq was being investigated by theconsulting firm Ernst & Young for “financial irregularities, corruption, fraudand misuse of donations and funds”. Later on, the firm and the PA confirmedthat these allegations were false and unfounded in a series of official lettersaddressed to Al-Haq in November 2015.

“Al-Haqis clearly targeted for its critical work in advocating, documenting andmonitoring human rights violations in the Palestinian territory. It isfundamental to stand by this pivotal human rights organisation in the face ofthese attacks to ensure it can pursue its essential activities in the defence ofthe rights of the Palestinian people”, said Gerald Staberock, Secretary Generalof the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).

The increase of attackscoincided with the progress achieved at the level of the ICC and decisions atthe EU level regarding the labelling of settlement products. As a result ofsuch advances, there have been direct attacks on Al-Haq from the IsraeliMinister of Justice, several Israeli newspapers and Israeli organisations andinstitutions both at the local level and abroad. The Observatory is concernedthat such attacks may have triggered the serious attacks made against Al Haqand its staff since September 2015 and urges the Israeli authorities toguarantee an enabling environment for human rights defenders, including those whodefend the rights of the Palestinian people, pursuant to its internationalhuman rights commitments.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human RightsDefenders (OBS) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation AgainstTorture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent orremedy to situations of repression against human rights defenders.

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