Sunday, October 27, 2013

Israel: Military Harassing Rights Group Staff

Recent Arrests, Travel Bans Compound Other Abuses
October 27, 2013
"(Jerusalem) – Israel’s military should stop harassing members of Addameer, a rights group that provides legal services and advocates for the rights of Palestinians in detention. The Israeli military has imposed severe restrictions and penalties on Addameer’s staff, either without even alleging any violent activity, or without due process.

Most recently, on October 21, 2013, the military prosecutor ordered a four-month administrative detention for an accountant working with the group. Israeli authorities had arrested the accountant, Samer al-Arbin, in September and held him in investigative detention for more than three weeks without charge before ordering his administrative detention. Administrative detention allows the authorities to hold him without charging him or revealing any evidence against him.

The Israeli military’s apparent persecution of a prisoners’ rights group, especially without allowing the individuals to defend themselves, is a prime example of the injustices the group seeks to counter,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. “The military should stop harassing Addameer’s employees on the basis of vague or secret evidence.”

In September, the military arrested and charged a defense lawyer working with the group, Anas Barghouthi, with membership in a banned political organization, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), mainly on the basis of evidence about his role organizing nonviolent demonstrations more than one year ago. Based on the charge sheet, he was not accused of any violent activity. He denies the charges. The military also renewed a travel ban against Addameer’s chairman, Abdulatif Ghaith, preventing him from traveling from his home in East Jerusalem to his office in the West Bank, on the basis that he presents a “security risk,” but has not presented any evidence to support that claim.

Addameer provides legal aid to detainees held by Israeli authorities as well as by the Palestinian Authority, conducts research and advocacy on prisoners’ rights issues, and trains prisoners and lawyers on applicable international law.

Israeli forces raided Addameer’s offices in December 2012 and seized equipment and documents, including the files of lawyers representing prisoners. Since the military has failed to provide any justification for the raid or the seizure of the equipment and documents, it should immediately return the material and compensate Addameer and the other organizations affected, Human Rights Watch said......."

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