On 19 March 2021, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, and Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies sent a joint submission to United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Ms Mary Lawlor, in response to a call for input issued ahead of her upcoming report on long-term detention of human rights defenders, which will be presented to the 76th session of the General Assembly in October 2021.
Highlighting the root causes of Israel’s systematic and widespread attacks on Palestinian human rights defenders, inherent in Israel’s apartheid regime, the joint submission addressed Israel’s practice of arbitrary arrests targeting those who seek justice for the Palestinian people and an end to Israel’s human rights violations.
In particular, the joint submission highlighted Israel’s use of administrative detention against Palestinians, without charge or trial for indefinite periods of time on the grounds of “secret information” to which neither they nor their legal counsel have access – one of the many features of Israel’s discriminatory military judicial system targeting Palestinians.
While the United Nations Committee against Torture called on Israel, on 13 May 2016, to “take the measures necessary to end the practice of administrative detention and ensure that all persons who are currently held in administrative detention are afforded all basic legal safeguards,” Israel continues to utilize its widespread policy of administrative detention, which is a form of psychological torture and may lead to developing severe depression, anxiety, and cognitive dysfunction.
Two cases are highlighted in the submission, that of Khalida Jarrar, a Palestinian civil society leader, lawmaker, and human rights activist who calls for women’s rights and for the realization of Palestinians’ rights and who had a leading role in formulating Palestine’s application to the International Criminal Court, and that of Mohammad El Halabi, a Palestinian human rights defender who was working as the manager of operations for the humanitarian organization World Vision in the Gaza Strip.
With these cases illustrative of the wider policy, the joint submission underscores how Israel continues to use arbitrary detention as a tool of oppression and domination, forming part and parcel of its institutionalized effort to silence Palestinians and to undermine any efforts seeking to challenge Israel’s apartheid regime.
Accordingly, the joint submission offered Special Rapporteur Lawlor the following recommendations:
Photo: Issa Amro recognized by the United Nations as “Human Rights Defender of the Year” in 2010.