Palestine
05.08.99
Urgent Interventions

Palestine: Harrassment

THE OBSERVATORY
for the protection of human rights defenders

URGENT APPEAL- THE OBSERVATORY
PAL 001 /9901/ OBS 050

Harassment/restrictions on freedom of movement

Palestinian Autonomous Areas

5th August 1999.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the FIDH and the OMCT, requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in the Palestinian Autonomous Areas.

Brief description of the situation

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders has been informed by LAW, (the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human rights and the Environment) member of both the FIDH and OMCT, of restriction on the activities and harassment of Dr Eyad Sarraj, human rights activist and director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme.

According to the information, on 5th August 1999, at 11.30 a.m Dr Eyad Sarraj, was called in for questioning by Moussa Abdul Nabi, a senior officer in the Civilian Police. At 14.00 hours, Dr Sarraj went into the Civilian Police Headquarters. He was released later on that day. He has been banned from leaving the city limits of Gaza.A telephone call requesting Dr Sarraj attend the police headquarterswas made by the office of Moussa Abdul Nabi to Eyad Sarraj's office atthe Gaza Community Mental Health Programme. Dr Sarraj was out of theoffice and his secretary, Iman Fathi Al Madaqqa, took the message. Shetold LAW that the police had said that they would prefer Dr Sarraj tocome in rather than "sending someone"; it seems that the police weresuggesting that unless he came in personally, he could be arrested.

The secretary telephoned Dr Sarraj, who arranged for a lawyer to accompany him to the Gaza Police Headquarters. Reports have indicated that the events may be linked to an article "The Battle Goes On", which was written by Sarraj and was published in the August edition of People's Rights magazine - a LAW publication - and distributed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories on 1st August 1999. The article criticised the attacks carried out over the past two months by the Palestine National Authority against human rights and other non-governmental organisations. The article gave special mention to the Minister of Justice, who led the campaign against NGOs.

Although a lower-ranking officer (Moussa Abdul Nabi) was involved in calling Dr Sarraj to the police headquarters, it is strongly suspected that Police Chief Ghazi Jabali would have issued such an order against a high-profile Palestinian figure as Dr Eyad Sarraj.Dr Sarraj has been arrested on three previous occasions for criticising the actions of the PNA. On 7 December 1995 and 18 May 1996, he was arrested, unlawfully detained and released without charge. On 10 June, he was arrested, detained and eventually accused of a (seemingly fabricated) drugs charge and later for striking a police officer. Upon being released, he was clearly bruised and reported having been beaten. He was released on bail and the charges against remain outstanding.

The Observatory condemns the harassment of Dr Sarraj and the restrictions on his human rights activities as a result of the this action. The Observatory notes with concern that these events come within the context of a serious deterioration of relations between the authorities and human rights groups. The restriction on the movement of Dr Sarraj come as part of an ongoing campaign to undermine, attack and vilify Palestinian NGOs, orchestrated by the Palestinian Authority (see PAL 002/9906/OBS 040).

Action Requested :

Please write to the authorities urging that they :

i take appropriate measures to end the travel restrictions of Dr Eyad Sarraj and bring an end to all other acts of harassment;

ii. ensure the implementation of the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9 1998 (Declaration concerning the rights and responsibilities of individuals,groups and institutions to promote and protect universally recognised human rights and fundamental liberties ) in particular its Article 1 which provides that « Every person has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental liberties at the national and international level. »

iii. guarantee the effective respect of fundamental human rights and freedoms in accordance with the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the universal and regional Pacts and Covenants.

Addresses:

Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian Authority, Abu Khadra Building, Omar al-Mukhtar Street, Gaza, via Israel. Fax : (972) (7) 282 4670/1

Freih Abu Meddein, Palestinian Authority, Minister of Justice, Abu Khadra Building, Omar al-al-Mukhtar Street, Gaza, via Israel. Fax : + 972 7 2822 236

Khalid al-Qidrah, Attorney General, Palestinian Authority, Attorney General Building, Yarmouk, Gaza, via Israel. Fax : + 972 7 2824 502.

Geneva- Paris, 5th August 1999

Kindly inform the Observatory of any action undertaken quoting the code number of the present appeal.The Observatory, an FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their timeof need.
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