Israel/OPT
18.03.09
Urgent Interventions

Ongoing travel restrictions imposed on Mr. Shawan Jabarin

New information
ISR 001 / 0607 / OBS 069.2
Obstacles to the freedom of movement / Harassment

Israel / Occupied Palestinian Territory

March 18, 2009

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

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by Al-Haq about ongoing travel restrictions imposed on Mr. Shawan Jabarin, Al-Haq General Director.

According to the information received, on March 10, 2009, the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ) issued its decision to dismiss the petition brought by Mr. Shawan Jabarin against the Commander of the Israeli military forces in the West Bank. Mr. Jabarin was challenging the arbitrary, indefinite and unconditional travel ban imposed on him by the Israeli military authorities, which prevents him from leaving the West Bank[1]. He claimed in particular that such ban was preventing him from attending a ceremony that is taking place in the Netherlands from March 11 to 19, 2009, where he was to receive the Geuzenpenning human rights award from the mayor of The Hague.

In two hearings held on March 5 and 9, 2009 - parts of which were conducted ex parte (with the only presence of a three-judge panel, the State Attorney, and members of the Israeli General Security Services (GSS)) - the judges, who heard the arguments and reviewed the evidence presented to it, made repeated attempts to resolve the matter by exploring the possibility of a “limited travel permit or a ‘creative’ solution that partially realises the petitioner’s ability to enjoy his right to freedom of movement”, but the GSS refused to alter their position.

Accordingly, Israel’s HCJ issued a five-paragraph judgment reflecting the GSS position and dismissing Mr. Jabarin’s petition, arguing that “evidence shows that is an active member of a “terrorist” organisation”. Further factual details, as well as legal reasoning of any kind, were considered by the Court to be superfluous to the judgment.

The Observatory denounces the secret evidence procedure adopted by the HCJ in this case, which violates basic due process principles and fair trial standards guaranteed under international human rights law in general, and in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), ratified by Israel in 1991, in particular[2].

The Observatory also expresses its deepest concern about the ongoing travel restrictions against Mr. Shawan Jabarin, which seem to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities. The Observatory believes in this regard such travel restrictions unfairly and arbitrarily impair his ability and the ability of his organisation to address regional and international organisations and fora about human rights concerns in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, thus violating Article 9.5 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to unhindered access to and communication with international bodies with general or special competence to receive and consider communications on matters of human rights and fundamental freedoms”, as well as Article 12 of the ICCPR, which includes the right to leave one’s own country[3].

The Observatory urges the Israeli authorities to put an end to any kind of harassment against Mr. Shawan Jabarin. In accordance with article 11 of the European Union (EU) Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, the Observatory also calls upon the European Commission Delegation as well as EU member-States’ missions in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories 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.

Background information:

Since March 23, 2006, when the travel documents of Mr. Shawan Jabarin were confiscated by the Israeli authorities, with no official reason, all the applications for business trips authorisations that he has submitted have been rejected by the Israeli authorities, including when he was invited by international NGOs.

Since then, the Israeli High Court of Justice rejected all his petitions aiming at putting an end to his travel ban and to enable him to attend international conferences or human rights activities abroad. In all her decisions, the Court argues that Mr. Jabarin’s trips abroad could represent a risk for national security, on account of his alleged political affiliations - without this argument being proved. In February 12, 2009, the Israeli High Court of Justice rejected the petition brought by Mr. Jabarin to leave the country to participate in the awards ceremony on behalf of the organisation he heads in the Netherlands.

After this review, and without Mr. Jabarin and his lawyer being able to examine the proofs or to be informed of their substance, the Court confirmed that the plaintiff would not be able to travel.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Israel urging them to:

  1. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Shawan Jabarin;
  2. Lift the travel ban imposed on Mr. Shawan Jabarin, as it sanctions his human rights activities;
  3. Put an end to any kind of harassment against Mr. Shawan Jabarin 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”, above-mentioned Article 9.5 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.

Addresses:

  • Mr. Ehud Olmert, 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: rohm@pmo.gov.il, pm_eng@pmo.gov.il
  • Mr. Ehud Barak, Minister of Defence, Ministry of Defence, 37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya, Tel Aviv 61909, Israel. Fax: +972 3 691 6940, Email: minister@mod.gov.il.
  • Mr. Tzipi Livni, 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: sar@mfa.gov.il
  • Mr. Daniel Friedmann, 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: sar@justice.gov.il / tifereth@justice.gov.il
  • Ambassador Itzhak Levanon, Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations in Geneva, Avenue de la Paix 1-3, CH-1202, Geneva, Switzerland, E-mail: mission-israel@geneva.mfa.gov.il, 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: brussels@israel.org

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, March 18, 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:
E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

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

[1] See Press Release issued by the Observatory on June 24, 2008 jointly with Al-Haq, the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, Defence for Children International - Palestine Section, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Gisha - Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network.

[2] General Comment 32 of the United Nations Human Rights Committee specifically states that parties must “be given the opportunity to contest all the arguments and evidence adduced by the other party”.

[3] Although human rights law permits restrictions on freedom of movement for security reasons, the restrictions must have a clear legal basis, be limited to what is necessary, and be proportionate to the threat. The United Nations Human Rights Committee stated in its General Comment 27 that “any limits on freedom of movement cannot reverse the relation between right and restriction, between norm and exception”.

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