By Farah Caïdi / GICJ
This is how Michael Sfard, an Israeli human rights lawyer and lawyer of Al-Haq organisation, described the current human rights situation in Palestine.
Al-Haq was designated as a terrorist organisation in October 2021, for its so called affiliation with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), along 5 other human rights organisations. This designation was quickly followed by a military order. The order enabled the military to execute the measures related to the designation, such as closures of offices, confiscation, administrative arrests and more. Their office was brutally shut down in August 2022. 13 months after the designation, Micheal Sfard denounced that he received nothing he could reply to as a lawyer to this organisation. The allegations against the organisation are still unknown. Israel claims that the accusations they have are part of a secret file they can’t disclose. However, the defence must be provided with something to answer to in order to uphold their innocence. In this situation, the lawyers are therefore unable to challenge the decision legally and are even threatened by the Ministry of Defence for representing “terrorist organisations”. One of the members of the Commission of Inquiry on the OPT conducting the interview highlighted that these actions amount to obstruction of justice among others, which is a violation of international law.
Due to these organisations long-standing work, in addition to their presence at the international scale and the support they receive from country donors, Israel wanted to isolate them. This quickly failed as the majority of the country donors and other entities didn’t support Israel move, and reiterated that no evidence were justifying this terrorist designation. However, Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) joins the call of these organisations in stressing that official statements are not enough now. Actions must be taken as these organisations’ staff, work and the entire civil society are clearly threatened.
Palestine, Commission of Inquiry, OPT, Israel, Public Hearings, Geneva International Centre for Justice, Human Rights council