UN experts stress the need to stop attacks against critics and demonstrators in Ramallah and hold those responsible to account
This is also available in: العربية (Arabic) متوفر ايضا باللغة
Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva: 12 July 2021
UN human rights experts have expressed serious concerns about a number of attacks by security forces against critics of the Palestinian Authority, including the death in custody of a known commentator as a result of beatings, and an opposition candidate.
Beating to death of an opposition candidate:
“Nizar Banat’s death in the occupied West Bank shortly after his nighttime arrest on 24 June by Palestinian Security Forces has all the makings of a criminal act,” said the experts. “Initial reports indicate that he was badly beaten with steel batons during his arrest at home by Palestinian Security Forces. After being taken away by the security forces, he died several hours later in their custody.
The necessity of opening an investigation into the death of Banat:
The experts stressed that “His death must be investigated in a truly impartial and transparent manner and in compliance with the Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death. If the investigation reveals that his death was a homicide, those responsible must be held fully accountable, regardless of rank or command and full reparations must be granted to the family of Mr. Banat. The findings of the investigation, including the results of the autopsy on Mr. Banat’s body, must be published in full.”
Banat was a regular commentator on Palestinian social media, as well as a harsh critic of Palestinian political figures. He raised issues related to allegations of corruption, the management of the Covid-19 pandemic, the security relationship between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli army, and the abuse of public authority. He was also an opposition candidate in the recently postponed Palestinian elections, and the Palestinian security forces arrested him several times. His house in the village of Dura was recently shot at by unknown assailants, and he received death threats.
The experts added that “Mr. Banat’s public criticisms, however harsh, were protected by the basic human rights of freedom of expression and of association”.
“The Palestinian Authority has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the right to hold opinions without interference and the freedom to express information and ideas of all kinds.”
“The ability for critics to exercise these freedoms and hold governments and public authorities to account is a vital means to measure how much, or how little, public freedoms are enjoyed in the society.”
Brutal attacks on peaceful demonstrations:
Demonstrations broke out in Ramallah and other cities in the West Bank after the death of Banat, amid demands for justice and accountability, and the demonstrations were met with excessive and unjustified force by the Palestinian security forces.
The experts expressed their deep concern over “the use of excessive force by Palestinian Security Forces against demonstrators, including allegations of attacks carried out by non-uniformed persons and the targeting of women present in the demonstrations.”