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ISRAEL: ARBITRARY DETENTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER SALAH HAMMOURI

The International League Against Arbitrary Detention urges the Government of Israel to take all the necessary actions to implement the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Opinion No. 13/2023 concerning Salah Hammouri starting for the Government of Israel to accord to Salah Hammouri an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations in accordance with international law.


Read the full WGAD Opinion concerning Salah Hammouri (Israel): Opinion No. 13/2023


SUBJECTED TO ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION BASED ON SECRET EVIDENCE


Mr. Hammouri is a human rights defender whose work consists of openly holding and expressing opinions intended to call for accountability and to protect human right, especially in the occupied West Bank by Israel. Mr. Hammouri was arrested without a warrant and held in administrative detention for approximately nine months from 7 March 2022 until 18 December 2022. The Working Group recalled the Human Rights Committee recommendation that Israel end the practice of administrative detention and the use of secret evidence in administrative detention proceedings and ensure that individuals subject to administrative detention orders were either charged promptly with a criminal offence or released. Such recommendation has been ignored by Israel, rendering Mr. Hammouri's deprivation of liberty contrary to article 9 (1) of the Covenant.


Moreover, the Working Group found that, although Mr. Hammouri appeared before a military court by video conference on 9 March 2022, neither he nor his lawyer had access to any of the evidence against him. The Working Group considered that, in these circumstances, he was not afforded a meaningful opportunity to challenge the basis for his arrest, in violation of article 9 (4) of the Covenant. The Working Group therefore concluded that the detention of Mr. Hammouri was arbitrary, falling within category I.


TARGETED FOR HIS ADVOCACY CALLING FOR THE END OF THE MILITARY OCCUPATION OF THE WEST BANK BY ISRAEL


The Working Group recalled that freedom of opinion and expression and of peaceful association are fundamental human rights, enshrined in articles 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 19 and 22 of the Covenant. The Government must respect, protect and fulfil the right to hold and express opinions, including those that are not in accordance with its official policy, as well as the right to think and manifest personal convictions that can be at odds with its official ideology.


In the present case, Mr. Hammouri is a lawyer and field researcher for a human rights organization that was criminalized by Israel in 2021, which designated it a “terrorist organization”. Hence, the Working Group found that Mr. Hammouri has been targeted due to his advocacy calling for the end of the military occupation of the West Bank by Israel, reaffirming that the work of human rights defenders is fundamental to the strengthening of democracy. Therefore, the Working Group concluded that the detention of Mr. Hammouri violated articles 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 19, 21 and 22 of the Covenant and was arbitrary under category II.


JUDGED BY A MILITARY COURT WITHOUT THE OPPORTUNITY TO PRESENT A DEFENCE


Mr. Hammouri was judged by a military court made without a hearing or an opportunity to present a defence. Moreover, the decisions on detention were made based on secret evidence, which was not disclosed to Mr. Hammouri or his lawyer, depriving Mr. Hammouri of his right to legal representation, to prepare his defence and of his right to examine the witnesses against him.


In these circumstances, the Working Group concluded that the use of military court proceedings, the lack of access to the evidence and Mr. Hammouri’s absence from the court violate article 14 (3) of the Covenant and collectively amount to serious violations rendering the detention of Mr. Hammouri arbitrary under category III.


A DISCRIMINATORY PATTERN OF PERSECUTION BASED ON ORIGIN IN ISRAEL


The Working Group has determined that detaining individuals on the basis of their national origin or activities as human rights defenders is a violation of their right to equality before the law and to the equal protection of the law under article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 26 of the Covenant.


More specifically, the Working Group noted that administrative detention on the basis of Military Order No. 1651 has a particularly severe impact on Palestinians. Throughout the occupation of the West Bank by Israel, the vast majority of persons held in administrative detention have been Palestinians and/or defenders of Palestinians’ human rights. Mr. Hammouri, a Palestinian lawyer, field researcher and human rights defender, has allegedly been detained or imprisoned by Israel six times and has been subjected to other forms of harassment.


The Working Group noted the growing volume of its own jurisprudence concerning administrative detention of Palestinians in Israel and observes that the present case follows the same pattern, noting the general manner in which the administrative detention orders in those cases were used against Palestinians. The Working Group hence concluded that the arrest and detention of Mr. Hammouri, who is a Palestinian, violates articles 2 (1) and 26 of the Covenant on the grounds of discrimination based on national origin, is arbitrary and falls under category V.


CONCLUSIONS OF THE UN WORKING GROUP AGAINST ARBITRARY DETENTION


In light of the foregoing, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considered that the detention of Salah Hammouri was arbitrary and fell under categories I, II, III and V because the deprivation of liberty of M. Hammouri was in contravention of articles 9, 10, 11, 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 2 (1), 9, 14, 19, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recommended that the Government of Israel take the steps necessary to remedy the situation of Salah Hammouri without delay and bring it into conformity with the relevant international norms, starting with according him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.

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