Urgent Interventions

Ongoing arbitrary detention of Mr. Mohammad Othman

ISR 001 / 1109 / OBS 162

Arbitrary detention / Judicial harassment

Israel / Occupied Palestinian Territory

November 6, 2009

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

Brief description of the information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing arbitrary detention of Mr. Mohammad Othman, a volunteer with the “Palestinian Grassroots Stop the Wall Campaign”[1], who remains held in administrative detention since September 22, 2009, without charges or being able to know the reason for his arrest.

According to the information received, the next hearing in Mr. Mohammad Othman’s case will take place on Sunday November 8, 2009.

It is feared that Mr. Othman be placed under indefinite administrative detention, without charge or trial, for a renewable period of one to six months[2]. Another hearing will also take place on the same day on the fact that Mr. Othman is not allowed any more to see his lawyer since his recent transfer to Beersheva prison, where he is no longer detained in solitary confinement.

On September 22, 2009, Mr. Mohammad Othman was arrested at the Allenby Bridge border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank as he was on his way back to Ramallah from an advocacy tour in Norway, during which he was engaged in a number of speaking events and meetings with Government officials.

On September 24, 2009, Mr. Othman was transferred from Huwwara provisional detention centre to Kishon (Jalameh) interrogation centre, located near Haifa in northern Israel. He was subsequently placed in solitary confinement.

On September 27, 2009, Mr. Othman was interrogated for the first time. During the interrogation session, he was questioned about his friends and family and was asked to provide their telephone numbers along with his personal e-mail address. In addition, the interrogators asked him broad questions about his work.

On September 29, 2009, the Military Court at Kishon interrogation centre extended Mr. Mohammad Othman’s detention period for ten days. On October 8, 2009, the Salem Military Court, in the northern West Bank, prolonged his detention for a further twelve days[3]. During neither of the two court hearings, the Israeli interrogation police did provide any charges against Mr. Othman, but contended that an extension of his detention period was necessary for further interrogation. The first time the military judge rejected the interrogators’ initial request to extend Mr. Othman’s detention period to twenty-three additional days, arguing that no clear allegations exist as only two short interrogation sessions had taken place during the previous eight days of his detention. The judge did agree, however, to a ten day extension period, based on “secret information” that was made available to him by representatives from the Israeli Security Agency (ISA). At the court hearing in Kishon, Mr. Othman’s lawyer questioned the ISA officers about the content of the undisclosed information and the reasons for Mohammad’s detention, but received no answer.

On October 19, 2009, the Salem Military Court extended Mr. Othman’s detention period for another eleven days and, on October 27, 2009, his detention was again extended for an additional 13 days. On November 1, the appeal against the extension of his detention was denied.

Mr. Othman was interrogated several times after his first court hearing, and at times the interrogation sessions lasted from 8:00 am until midnight. During one of the sessions, he was threatened that he could spend a total of 180 days in interrogation. He was also indirectly threatened with life imprisonment as the interrogator told him the story of a human rights activist from Nablus who received a life sentence. He was also threatened that “his human rights work would not be helpful as he is now in the hands of the State of Israel”. Mr. Othman has been repeatedly insulted and verbally assaulted during the interrogations. Mr. Othman would also been interrogated daily about his trips to Europe and contacts with European organisations, as well as on issues relating to his human rights activities as a volunteer with the “Stop the Wall Campaign”. He was also asked questions about other staff members of the campaign.

The Observatory calls upon the Israeli authorities to release Mr. Mohammad Othman immediately and unconditionally as his detention seems to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities, and therefore contravenes the United Nations (UN) Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998.

Besides, the Observatory urges embassies of European Union member States in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to attend the hearing due to take place on November 8, 2009, in accordance with the Guidelines of the European Union on Human Rights Defenders, as well as to urge the Israeli authorities to comply with the relevant international norms and standards, including the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in order to create an environment where human rights defenders can operate freely.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Israel urging them to:

  1. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Mohammad Othman;

  2. Release Mr. Mohammad Othman immediately and unconditionally since his detention is arbitrary as it only aims at sanctioning his human rights activities;

  3. Put an end to any kind of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Mohammad Othman and all human rights defenders in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their work without unjustified hindrances;

  4. Comply with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” and Article 12(2), which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the [...] Declaration”;

  5. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the country and the Occupied Palestinian Territories in accordance with international human rights instruments ratified by Israel, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.


  • Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister, 3 Kaplan Street, PO Box 187, Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem 91919, Israel. Fax: + 972 2 651 2631 / 02-670-5475, E-mail:,

  • Mr. Ehud Barak, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Ministry of Defence, 37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya, Tel Aviv 61909, Israel. Fax: +972 3 691 6940, Email:

  • Mr. Avigdor Lieberman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 9 Yitzhak Rabin Boulevard, Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem 91035, Israel. Fax: +972 2 628 7757 / +972 2 628 8618 / + 972-2-5303367. Email:

  • Mr. Yaakov Ne’eman, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice, 29 Salah al-Din Street, Jerusalem 91010, Israel. Fax: + 972 2 628 7757 / + 972 2 628 8618 / + 972 2 530 3367. Email: /

  • Ambassador Aharon Leshno-Yaar, Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations in Geneva, Avenue de la Paix 1-3, CH-1202, Geneva, Switzerland, E-mail:, Fax: +41 22 716 05 55

  • Embassy of Israel in Brussels, 40 avenue de l’Observatoire, 1180 Uccle, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 373 56 17, Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Israel in your respective country as well as to the EU diplomatic missions or embassies in Israel.

Geneva-Paris, November 6, 2009

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

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:


Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

[1] The Campaign voices opposition to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory, Israel’s continuation of land confiscation as well as to Israel’s human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory, including those resulting from the construction of the Annexation Wall inside the West Bank.

[2] Based on Israeli military orders, a military judge can authorise the detention of Palestinian detainees for up to 90 days, which can be extended for another 90 days by the judge of the Military Appeal Court, if the detainees are deemed to “pose a threat to the security of the State”. The status of administrative detention denies all civil and political rights to the detainees. Therefore, the authorities do not have to charge the prisoner, nor to bring him to trial.

[3] The October 8 decision was appealed at the Military Court of Appeals in Ofer on October 14, when the judge declined the appeal.

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