The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council Condemns Denial of Work Permit of Human Rights Watch Country Director

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The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) strongly condemns the refusal by Israeli authorities to grant a work permit to Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch Israel and Palestine director. The refusal reflects a larger policy of repression of human rights work by Israeli authorities through movement restrictions, arbitrary arrests, travel bans, and denial of entry.

In recent months, Palestinian, Israeli and international organizations have come under increased pressure from Israel for their reporting on Israel's human rights violations. This includes a series of smear campaigns[1] and the passage of a Knesset law in July of 2016 that obliges nongovernmental organizations to report on their foreign funding, with fines reaching about 7,000 USD for non-compliance.

United Nations experts have also been subject to denials of entry by Israel, including Richard Falk, the former Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.[2]

Other United Nations experts have also highlighted the shrinking space for human rights work. In December 2016, Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 and Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders have noted the increasing repression of human rights defenders in occupied Palestine, citing cases of arbitrary arrest. Particularly, the UN Special Rapporteurs raised concerns about Issa Amro, founder of Youth Against Settlements, Farid al-Atrash, a Palestinian attorney, Salah Khawaja, Stop the Wall Campaign coordinator, and Hasan Safadi, Addameer’s media coordinator, all of whom have been arrested in recent months.[3]

PHROC stands in solidarity with Human Rights Watch and calls for the protection of human rights work, the freedom of movement for human rights staff, and an immediate end to repression and that serves to inhibit vital human rights work in Palestine, Israel and globally.

[1] Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, “Al Mezan Condemns Continued Death Threats to Staff Members and Calls on the International Community to Intervene”, 11 August 2016. Available at: http://www.mezan.org/en/post/21475/Al+Mezan+Condemns+Continued+Death+Threats+to+Staff+Members+and+Calls+on+the+International+Community+to+Intervene

[2] Al-Haq, "Denial of entry to UN Special Rapporteur demonstrates once again Israel's duplicity in its relations with the UN, 17 December 2009. Available at: http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/targets/united-nations/205-denial-of-entry-to-un-special-rapporteur-demonstrates-once-again-israels-duplicity-in-its-relations-with-the-un

[3] “Human rights defenders under growing legal pressure in the OPT – UN rights experts”, Geneva, 16 December 2016. Available at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21041&LangID=E#sthash.qp0Ce72c.dpuf

Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association
Sahar Francis
General Director

Shawan Jabarin
General Director

Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
Nidal Azzah
General Director

Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies
Suhaib Sharif
General Director

Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights
Issam Aruri
General Director

Aldameer Association for Human Rights
Hala Jaber
General Director

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
Issam Younis
General Director

Defence for Children International
Palestine Section
Khaled Quzmar
General Director

Hurryyat - Centre for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights
Helmi Al-Araj
General Director

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Raji Sourani
General Director