Posts Tagged ‘expulsion’

Human Rights Watch’ Omar Shakir loses his appeal in Israeli Supreme Court

November 6, 2019

On 5 November 2019, the Israeli Supreme Court dismissed the appeal against the Jerusalem District Court’s decision to uphold a deportation order against Human Rights Watch (HRW) representative in Israel and Palestine, Omar Shakir, who is accused by the State of supporting the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement. The Court ruled that Shakir must leave the country in 20 days. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/04/18/israel-deportation-of-human-rights-watchs-staff-member-again-on-the-table/]

HRW stated “Omar Shakir’s Expulsion Would Send Chilling Message“. The Israeli NGO “Human Rights Defenders Fund” issued the following statment on the case:

The Court dismissed the claim raised by Shakir’s lawyers Michael Sfard and Emily Schaeffer Omer-Man, according to which he did not violate the law that authorizes the exclusion from Israel of those who call for or support boycotting Israel or an area under its control (Amendment no. 28 to the Entry into Israel Law, 2017). The Court also rejected a request to suspend proceedings until a new Israeli government is formed following the September elections and could consider whether to proceed with the deportation.

The constitutional claims raised in the appeal were not directly addressed by the Court, which stated that the constitutionality of Amendment no. 28 to the Entry into Israel Law will be examined in a separate petition currently pending before the High Court of Justice.

The Court further dismissed the claim that Shakir did not call to boycott Israel, but was merely fulfilling HRW’s long-held mandate in calling businesses not to contribute to human rights violations in the OPT. Head of the panel of judges, Justice Neal Hendel, adopted the State’s position and asserted that Shakir’s Tweets throughout the years, including the ones he posted on behalf of HRW regarding corporate responsibility in the OPT, all amount to active and consistent promotion of boycott activity.

One of the more disconcerting aspects of the Court’s decision is the conflation of Shakir’s independent activities prior to joining HRW with actions taken more recently in his capacity as a researcher at HRW, such as HRW reports shared on his social media, as indication that there is “enough evidence to show substantial, coherent and consistent involvement of Shakir in promoting boycott, in violation of the law.” 

The most disturbing component of the ruling is the Court’s holding that the law’s application extends to those who use boycott to promote the protection of human rights in the OPT, in accordance with international law:

“[…] the subjective aim of Amendment no. 28 […] validates that a call to boycott Israel may be included within the meaning of the law, even if its reasoning is founded on the protection of human rights or on the norms of international law. In fact, it seems that the possibility of disguising a call for boycott under a human rights discourse will devoid Amendment no. 28 of its content and harm its objective aim — fighting the boycott movement. These aims demonstrate that [the text of the law] is not only limited to boycott that is based on political opposition to Israel’s control of the territories, but also includes boycott that is based on the identification of the Israeli control in the territories as a violation of international law.”   
Following that statement, the Court held that since Shakir’s activity regarding corporate responsibility in the OPT is based on his entire opposition to the legitimacy of the Israeli settlements in the OPT, his work constitutes illegal support of boycott in violation of Israeli law.

In addition, the Court stated that HRW is not considered to be a “BDS organization” and reassured that its activity will not be harmed by the decision to deport one of his representatives. Furthermore, the Court dismissed the petitioners’ concerns by stating that the current decision will not affect other human right defenders and organizations who will want to enter Israel.

Nonetheless, HRDF views this ruling as a dangerous precedent that reflects the shrinking space for human rights advocates who defend human rights in the context of the occupation.

Following the decision, Adv. Sfard stated: “Today, Israel has joined countries like Syria, Iran and North Korea, who have also deported Human Rights Watch representatives in attempt to silence criticism against human rights abuses committed in their territory. The Supreme Court’s decision gives Israel a dangerous and anti-democratic veto power over the identity of the representatives of international organizations operating in Israel and in the OPT. Today they deport Omar, and tomorrow they will deport other representatives, foreign journalists and anyone who opposes the government policies in the occupied territories.”

Adv. Schaeffer Omer-Man added: “Today’s Supreme Court ruling not only lends legitimacy to Israel’s attempts to mask its disapproval of Human Rights Watch’s activities condemning settlement activity in the OPT by deporting Omar Shakir, but it threatens to deepen the already pervasive self-censorship by Palestinian and Israeli human rights defenders who are more vulnerable than ever to persecution for legitimate advocacy against Israeli violations of international law.”

Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth stated: “The Supreme Court has effectively declared that free expression in Israel does not include completely mainstream advocacy for Palestinian rights. If the government now deports Human Rights Watch’s researcher for asking businesses to respect rights as we do across the world, there is no telling whom it will throw out next.”
 
HRDF stands in solidarity with Omar Shakir and Human Rights Watch. The decision to deport Shakir on grounds of support for boycott is only one measure in the ever-growing efforts of the Israeli authorities in recent years to delegitimize human rights defenders, silence political expression and shut down the work of human rights organizations who report human rights abuses in the OPT.

The law on which the Court’s ruling relies is only one of a long line of legislation passed in recent years designed to delegitimize and sanction human rights defenders and organizations, block their funding, impose obstacles to their work, and create a chilling effect on Israeli, Palestinian and international human rights organizations.

The State’s and the Court’s insistence on separating Shakir’s work from HRW is artificial and its purpose is solely to conceal the harsh and far-reaching ramifications of this decision, which will enable the state to dictate and censor the work of human rights organizations who monitor and report human rights abuses in Israel and in the OPT. The international community must not be affected by this attempt to separate between HRW and its employee, Omar Shakir, as giving in to such tactics would harm the solidarity and support that all human rights defenders deserve.

(contact the HRDF team with any questions you might have: noa@hrdf.org.il)

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https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/11/05/israel-supreme-court-greenlights-deporting-human-rights-watch-official

https://mailchi.mp/18f35a27e33d/update-israeli-supreme-court-dismisses-appeal-against-the-deportation-of-human-rights-watch-israel-and-palestine-director-omar-shakir?e=51113b9c0e

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/10/israel-opt-amnesty-staff-member-faces-punitive-travel-ban-for-human-rights-work/

Israel: deportation of Omar Shakir must be halted and the work of human rights defenders protected

 

Ahmed Reda Benchemsi, HRW staff member, expelled from Algeria

August 21, 2019

Former Moroccan journalist Ahmed Reda Benchemsi. / Ph. DR

On 20 August 2019 Human Rights Watch (HRW) denounced Algeria’s expulsion of former Moroccan journalist Ahmed Reda Benchemsi, who acts as its Middle East communications and advocacy director. In a statement, the NGO recalled that Benchemsi arrived in Algeria on August 1 on behalf of the organization. Police arrested him on August 9 around 2 pm, while he «was observing the 25th consecutive Friday pro-democracy demonstration in downtown Algiers». Authorities confiscated his phone and laptop and «ordered him to provide his passwords to unlock both devices, which he refused to do».

«Ahmed Benchemsi was in Algiers simply doing his job observing human rights conditions», executive director of Human Rights Watch Kenneth Roth said. «His arbitrary arrest and mistreatment send the message that authorities don’t want the world to know about the mass protests for more democracy in Algeria», Roth added.

Benchemsi lawfully entered Algeria and revealed his professional affiliation at the request of the authorities, said HRW, recalling that the Moroccan had already made three trips to Algeria since 2017 on behalf of the organization. The Algerian authorities have not, at any time, informed Benchemsi of the charges he could be facing or the legal basis to confiscate and keep his passports, his telephone and his laptop, or to demand that he provides the passwords of the devices, he denounces. «Benchemsi’s mistreatment is a sobering reminder of the risks faced every day by Algerian human rights defenders exposing and reporting on government abuses», Roth concluded.

https://en.yabiladi.com/articles/details/82356/denounces-arrest-mistreatment-ahmed-reda.html

https://allafrica.com/stories/201908200439.html

Nicaragua moves against women human rights defenders

December 2, 2018

 
Ana Quiros

On Monday 26 November 2018 Ana Quiros, Maria Jesus Ara, Beatriz Huber and Ana Ara were called in to immigration. Quiros was then taken to the El Chipote interrogation prison and subsequently driven to the Costa Rica border. The Havana Times of 27 November carries a long piece on this. “Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo’s regime has just raised the level of their harassment against feminist movements, in a day of abuses that culminated on Monday with the expulsion from the country of feminist leader Ana Quiros” write Juan Carlos Bow.

Quiros is a Costa Rican and Nicaragua dual citizen who has lived in Nicaragua for more than 40 years – the entirety of her adult life. Along with Quiros, three European women living in the City of Matagalpa for decades, were also cited by immigration without any explanation to appear on Monday at their offices, where they were held for hours and then had their permanent residency revoked. The authorities refused to allow them to be accompanied by lawyers or human rights defenders.

The Ara sisters are Spanish and Huber is Swiss, all had current permanent residency status. Quiros was born in Costa Rica and is a Nicaraguan national since February 1997. All are part of the national feminist movement that has criticized the repression of the Ortega regime and its responsibility for the death of at least 325 Nicaraguans.

Last week the regime blocked activities of the feminist movement to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which is held annually on November 25th.

Before presenting herself at Immigration, Quiros offered a press conference in which she stated that “the dictatorship must be clear that we are going to continue raising our voices, saying strongly that we want a free homeland in which to live.” “I chose to be Nicaraguan and I feel I have the right to demand that my rights be protected, to demand that in Nicaragua there be peace, justice and freedom, and to repudiate the abuses and arbitrariness that they have committed: the murders, the prison and the kidnapping of all those Nicaraguan brothers and sisters, who only want and are asking for a better Nicaragua, a Nicaragua where we all fit, where no one feels that they are above anyone else,” said Quiros.

This is the second time that a government tries to silence the critical voice of Quiros, who is a specialist in public health. In 2000, the administration of Arnoldo Alemán tried to strip Quiros of her Nicaraguan nationality, after she publicly pointed out the acts of corruption of the liberal party president.

Vilma Nunez, of the Cenidh, lamented the expulsion of Quiros noting that the Ortega government has exceeded its intolerance against everything that annoys and bothers it. “…Nuñez said that the citation of Quiros and the other three feminists “has no legal value because it did not state why they are being called in.” ….Nunez said that in order to revoke someone’s citizenship, a trial must first be held, which has not occurred in this case.

https://havanatimes.org/?p=144719

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/deportation-ana-quiros

 

Poland and Israel: human rights defenders not welcome

May 9, 2018

For those who think that muzzling human rights defenders is an exclusively non-western affair, look at these examples: Poland and Israel.

On 9 May 2018 Katharina Rall, environment researcher at Human Rights Watch, critically looks at Poland‘s efforts to hamper the freedom of expression and demonstration by human rights defenders at the forthcoming climate summit, known as the COP24. It will bring together state parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and thousands of experts, journalists, businesses and nongovernmental groups.  UN experts cite concerns about the ban on spontaneous assemblies in Katowice during the talks, which will make it difficult for groups to respond to developments at the negotiations. In a letter sent to the Polish government last month they said that by “curtail[ing] the possibility of spontaneously expressing views about the unfolding of the climate talks and organizing peaceful assemblies to this effect”, the new law appears to go beyond the rights restrictions necessary to ensure security and safety at the conference. The UN experts also noted that the law “appears to give sweeping surveillance powers to the police and secret services to collect and process personal data about all COP24 participants”. This is a serious issue for the safety of climate activists at the summit. [The Polish government has yet to respond to the UN rights experts. But a reply from the Polish environment minister to similar concerns raised by the Bureau of the Aarhus Convention, a regional human rights and environmental body, has done little to dispel them.]

Just the day before, 8 May 2018, AP reported that Israel’s Interior Minister, Arieh Deri, has ordered the head of the local office of Human Rights Watch to leave the country within 14 days for allegedly supporting boycotts of Israel. HRW responded that it stands by Omar Shakir, a U.S. citizen of Iraqi descent, and accused Israel of trying to muzzle criticism of its human rights record. It says neither it nor Shakir support boycotts, and that it will challenge the decision in court. Iain Levine, a Human Rights Watch official, says Israel’s actions, such as compiling a dossier on Shakir, and “deporting human rights defenders is a page out of the Russian or Egyptian security services’ playbook.” [In April last year his appointment had already let to controversy, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/04/27/human-rights-watch-granted-israeli-work-permit-in-the-end/]

http://news.trust.org//item/20180509072953-izwk3/

https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/israel-expel-human-rights-watch-rep-boycott-claims-55019948

Unlike his Chinese colleagues human rights defender Peter Dahlin can go home

January 26, 2016

After more than 20 days of detention and a public confession that sounded forced, Swedish human defender Peter Dahlin has been expelled from China, and is on his way home. The Chinese foreign ministry and Swedish embassy in Beijing confirmed Peter Dahlin, 35, had been released from detention and expelled from the country on Monday 15 January 2016.

[What Dahlin actually admitted to in his televised confession, and what a voice-over in Chinese said he had admitted to, were two very different things, as Quartz reported earlier. Discrepancies included his alleged “funding” of Chinese activists (Dahlin said “support” in his confession, which was in English), and an accusation that he had embezzled money from foreign NGOs, which Dahlin never admitted to.] https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/confessions-abound-on-chinese-television-first-gui-minhai-and-now-peter-dahlin/

Another Swedish citizen, Hong Kong-based bookseller Gui Minhairemains in custody in Beijing after his suspected abduction from Thailand by Chinese authorities. Swedish officials are “very concerned about the detained Swedish citizen Gui Minhai. Our efforts to bring clarity to his situation and be granted the opportunity to visit him continue with unabated intensity,” the Swedish embassy said in its statement.

Source: Human rights activist Peter Dahlin has been expelled from China, and is headed home to Sweden – Quartz

Russian Human Rights Defender Expelled from Ukraine!

February 11, 2014

It sounds almost like a joke but it truly happened. On 9 February 2014 Ukrainian border officials barred a Russian human rights defender from entering the country, according to Human Rights Watch:  Andrei Yurov, a member of Russia’s presidential human rights council and the Head of its permanent commission on human rights outside Russia, was deported to Russia upon his arrival at Borispyl airport in Kiev. Yurov was to meet in Kiev with Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks, and to work within the International Human Rights Defenders’ Group on the Situation in Ukraine, which was founded on December 1, 2013, in response to the November 30 police violence against peaceful protesters in Kiev.HRW_logo

Yurov’s expulsion is an unprecedented and wholly regrettable step,” said Rachel Denber, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Instead of driving out human rights defenders the Ukrainian government should be open to scrutiny of its human rights record during this crisis.

via Ukraine: Russian Rights Defender Expelled | Human Rights Watch.