Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have today submitted a joint urgent letter to the UK government to request its intervention to protect Palestinian human rights defenders from escalating threats and harassment that appear directly linked to their work pursuing accountability and justice at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The joint letter can be read here.
Their letter outlines the serious threats and harassment against Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (based in Gaza) and Al Haq (based in the West Bank) – including death threats against staff members – which follows its joint work on submitting confidential communications to the Prosecutor of the ICC in connection with her preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine.
LPHR, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International assert in their letter that “it appears that the threats against Al Mezan and Al Haq are aimed to deter, undermine and divert their organisations’ attention from their vital human rights work on accountability and justice.” The letter states that Al Mezan and Al Haq say the targeting against them clearly indicates that they are under very close surveillance using highly advanced cyber capabilities.
The joint human rights organisations’ letter concludes by expressing its grave concern about these threats, and calls for specific action by the UK government, in conjunction with European governments, under the EU Guidelines for Human Rights Defenders:
“Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are extremely concerned by the mounting and grave seriousness of these threats. Accordingly we urge the UK government to take steps to highlight the threats and harassment faced by Palestinian human rights organisations and its staff members working for accountability and justice. In particular, we urge your government to consider working closely with your European counterparts to examine this issue under the framework of the EU Guidelines for Human Rights Defenders. We refer to the FCO’s Human Rights and Democracy Report 2015, in which it confirms its commitment to this issue, stating,“The UK places great importance on work at the EU level on HRDs, including through the EU Guidelines.”(p.27) We suggest this include preparing a joint public statement condemning the incidents and asserting the need to protect human rights defenders working on the critical issue of access to justice and accountability in connection with the Prosecutor of the ICC’s preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine.”
To read the joint urgent letter by LPHR, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to the UK Foreign Office concerning escalating threats against Palestinian human rights defenders pursuing accountability and justice at the ICC, please see here.