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Human rights defender’s freedom of movement and right to a fair trial violated

Human rights defender’s freedom of movement and right to a fair trial viola...

The EMHRN strongly condemns the Israeli High Court of Justice’s (HCJ) decision on 10 March 2009 to dismiss the petition brought by Shawan Jabarin, the General Director of Al-Haq - a Ramallah based Palestinian human rights organisation- challenging the arbitrary, indefinite and unconditional travel ban imposed on him by the Israeli military authorities shortly after he was appointed as General Director of Al-Haq early 2006.

Freedom of movement is a fundamental human right enshrined in international and Israeli law and the EMHRN vigorously protests against the arbitrary denial of such a right to Mr Jabarin, one of the most prominent and dedicated Palestinian human rights defenders.

Mr Jabarin petitioned the Israeli High Court of Justice to have the ban lifted in order to be able to travel to the Netherlands, where he was to receive the prestigious 2009 Geuzen Medal on behalf of Al-Haq on Friday 13 March. This prestigious Human Rights Prize, attributed by the Geuzen Resistance Foundation, was jointly awarded last month to both Al-Haq and the Jerusalem-based Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem to honour their courageous and continuous monitoring of human rights abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. 

Moreover, Mr Jabarin's right to fair trial, enshrined in international human rights and humanitarian law, was infringed upon during the legal proceeding, as his travel ban and the recent court decision not to lift it were based on “secret evidence” that neither Mr. Jabarin nor his lawyers have access to. Mr Jabarin was never given any opportunity to confront the allegations brought against him nor questioned or summoned for interrogation by the relevant Israeli authorities. The impossibility to see and to challenge the "secret evidence" in court is a flagrant violation of Mr. Jabarin's right to fair trial. The EMHRN recalls that the UN Human Rights Committee has held that "deviating from fundamental principles of fair trial, including presumption of innocence is prohibited at all times."

The EMHRN urges the Israeli authorities to immediately lift the travel ban imposed on Shawan Jabarin. Additionally, the EMHRN demands that the petitioner and his lawyers be allowed access to the “secret evidence” to effectively exercise the right to challenge such allegations before the court. The EMHRNrespectfully reminds Israel that the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders and their right to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. 

While the EMHRN welcomes the efforts made by EU diplomats to support Shawan Jabarin's case, the EMHRN further calls upon the EU to effectively implement its Guidelines on human rights defenders, and to adopt all measures at its disposal to induce Israel to respect Mr Jabarin’s right to freedom of movement and to fair trial.