United Nations Special Rapporteurs take action on behalf of Human Rights defender Issa Amro

Geneva/ Palestine – UN Special Rapporteurs issue joint press release on behalf of Issa Amro, OHCHR human rights defender of the year in Palestine 2009

Press release

Earlier this month a group of five United Nations independent experts issued a joint press release and expressed deep concern at the ongoing harassment, intimidation and abusive treatment against Issa Amro, OHCHR human rights defender of the year in Palestine 2009.

GICJ had recently provided new information on the ill-treatment of Issa Amro by Israeli occupation forces after Issa Amro’s return to Palestine following his visit to Geneva at the occasion of the 23rd Human rights Council, during which he delivered two oral statements and held a presentation during a side event organized by GICJ along with the SR on Palestine, Dr. Richard Falk.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine, Richard Falk, held that Issa appeared to be the victim of a “pattern of harassment” from side of the Occupation Forces and settlers alike. “Among the most insidious features of the prolonged occupation of the West Bank has been the high degree of complicity linking the Israeli military administration to the violence of the unlawful settlers against Palestinian inhabitants”, he stated.

GICJ had highlighted this issue in numerous urgent appeals on Issa’s behalf since March 2013, when Israeli settlers had started a defamation campaign against him that branded Issa as the Center of anarchist-terrorist activity and following which several Zionist websites had issued calls for Issa’s execution.

The experts also addressed an incident on 8 July 2013 when after Issa’s return from Geneva to Palestine he had guided a French TV crew inside the Old City of Hebron. At the end of the filming Israeli soldiers held back Issa’s ID and arrested him for complaining in front of the cameras. Inside the police station soldiers beat him so badly that Issa collapsed. Instead of helping him soldiers took photos of him and threatened to shoot him. Issa was hospitalized more than five hours later and summoned to the same police station the next day.

In view of this incident the UN SR on torture, Juan E. Méndez expressed himself extremely concerned for Issa’s life and physical integrity and the toll that such incidents might have on his health and family. The UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly further stressed that the right to freedom of association demands that those exercising it are specifically protected from threats or use of violence, harassment, persecution, intimidation or reprisals.

Such concerns reflected what GICJ had consistently expressed in its urgent appeals in view of the ongoing campaign of intimidation against Issa that put his life and limb in danger and were sadly confirmed on Thursday 25th July 2013, when Issa was almost shot by fanatic settlers on July 26, 2013, while he was sitting outside, in front of YAS center and two live bullets hit the window less than a meter above his head.

In view of such incidents the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggy declared that Issa faced an “unacceptable campaign of harassment, intimidation and reprisals”. Her statement was underlined by the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank La Rue, who said that during a former visit to the West Bank, he had been deeply concerned by the restrictions imposed by Israel on the work of human rights defenders and journalists working in the occupied territories.

The experts finally called on the Government of Israel to make sure that every allegation of torture or of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of Palestinians in Israeli custody is investigated in a thorough and transparent investigation and that those responsible are held accountable for their acts.

The press release can be found here.

GICJ Activities on the Human Rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories

GICJ Urgent Appeals on Palestine:

      GICJ Side-Events and oral statements on Palestine:

      Human Rights Council - 30th regular session (14 September - 2 October 2015)

      Human Rights Council - 29th regular session (15 June - 3 July 2015)

      Human Rights Council - 21st special session on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem (23 July 2014)

      Human Rights Council - 26th regular session (10 - 27 June 2014):

      Human Rights Council - 25th regular session (3 - 28 March 2014):

      Human Rights Council - 24th regular session (9 - 27 September 2013):

      Human Rights Council - 23rd regular session (27 May - 14 June 2013):

      GICJ Newsletter