UN concerned about Palestinian authorities’ alleged arbitrary detention of 3 human rights defenders
Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva: October 4 2021
UN experts have expressed their concern about the alleged arbitrary detention of human rights defenders in Palestine, Mohannad Karajah, Jihad Abdo and Ezz El Din Zaaloul.
In a UN memorandum sent to the Palestinian Authority on August 4, 2021, to which no response was made, Mohannad Karajah, a Palestinian human rights defender and an attorney representing Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, a non-governmental organization that supports Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli and Palestinian prisons by providing free legal aid as well as carrying out research and advocacy work.
On July 4, 2021, several Palestinian police officers arbitrarily arrested Karajeh in Ramallah Court, where he was practising his work as a lawyer, without showing an arrest warrant against him. He was transferred to the intelligence office for interrogation, but he refused to speak without the presence of his lawyer. He remained in detention for approximately 4 hours and was denied his right to contact his lawyer or his family. Before his release, the police forced him to sign a document claiming that he had agreed to attend an interrogation before the Public Prosecution the next day. Later that day, the public prosecutor denied that he had previously issued the relevant arrest warrant for him.
Karajah has been targeted in the past because of his work as a human rights defender. On October 4 2016, he was physically assaulted and injured by police officers while participating in a peaceful demonstration in Ramallah.
Jihad Abdo and Ezz El Din Zaaloul:
They are human rights defenders and members of the Coalition for Civilization Demand for the Just Palestinian Telecommunications Sector, which promotes and protects economic rights and participates in peaceful protests to demand an end to corruption within the Palestinian authorities, especially the telecommunications sector.
On July 4 2021, a group of human rights defenders and lawyers demonstrated peacefully outside the Ramallah Court in protest against the arbitrary arrest of Karajah. As a result, two human rights defenders, Jihad Abdo and Ezz El Din Zaaloul were arrested without a judicial order.
Both human rights defenders were not formally charged by the Public Prosecution, but they were charged with the same charges that were brought against Karajeh. Abdo was released on July 6, 2021, and Zaaloul was released on July 7, 2021. Their trial is scheduled to take place in September 2021.
UN concerns of arbitrary arrests:
The experts expressed their concern about the circumstances surrounding the arbitrary detention of Karajah, especially in light of the clear violation of the human rights defender’s freedom by arresting him without a judicial order. The experts are also concerned that two other human rights defenders, Abdo and Zaaloul, were detained arbitrarily following their peaceful protests and that the three human rights defenders are at risk of indictment and conviction.
The experts also expressed their concerns that the three human rights defenders have been targeted because of their legitimate work and that judicial harassment and criminalization against them will deter other human rights defenders in Palestine from carrying out their work for fear of reprisals.
UN demands from the Palestinian Authority:
The experts called on the Palestinian Authority to provide information on the factual and legal basis for the alleged arbitrary detention of Mohannad Karajah on July 4 2021, particularly in light of the absence of an arrest warrant, while explaining the legal basis for the arrest of Jihad Abdo and Ezz El Din Zaaloul and how the judicial proceedings against the three Palestinian human rights defenders comply with international law.
The experts also called on Palestine to provide information on the measures it has taken to ensure that human rights defenders in the State of Palestine are able to carry out their legitimate work in the field of human rights, without any restrictions, including threats of criminalization, attacks and judicial harassment.