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26 March 2007
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Agenda item 2
IMPLEMENTATION OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION 60/251
OF 15 MARCH 2006 ENTITLED "HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL"
CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS, INCLUDING THE QUESTION OF
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
The right to freedom of opinion and expression
Report of the Special Rapporteur, Amebyi Ligabo
Summary of cases transmitted to Governments
and replies received*
*The present report is being circulated as received, in the languages of submission only, as it greatly exceeds the word limitation currently used by the relevant General Assembly resolution.
1. On 20 January 2006, the Special Rapporteur, jointly with the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders, sent an urgent appeal regarding
Hassan Mustafa Hassan Zaka
, researcher with The Public Committee against Torture in Israel (PCATI). PCATI is a non-governmental organization that investigates complaints of human rights abuses of Palestinians who claim to have been the victims of torture or other ill-treatments and infringements of their human rights by Israeli authorities. Hassan Mustafa Hassan Zaka is also employed by the non-governmental organization Ansar Asajeen, which provides legal aid to Palestinian detainees and prisoners. According to the information received: On 11 January 2006, Hassan Mustafa Hassan Zaka was arrested and detained while attempting to cross a military checkpoint between Nablus and Tul Karem. He was reported to be detained at the Hawarah Military Detention facility near Nablus. On 17 January 2006, the Israeli Defense e Force Regional Commander issued a six- month order of administrative detention against Hassan Mustafa Hassan Zaka on the grounds of “endangering the security of the region”.
2. On 14 March 2006, the Special Rapporteur sent an urgent appeal, jointly with the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders, concerning
Ziyad Muhammad Shehadeh Hmeidan
, human rights defender and fieldworker for Al-Haq, a Palestinian non-governmental organization (NGO), and affiliate organization of the International Commission of Jurists which conducts research and advocacy works on human rights. Ziyad Muhammad Shehadeh Hmeidan had already been the subject of three previously transmitted urgent appeals. According to the new information received: on 12 March 2006, Ziyad Muhammad Shehadeh Hmeidan was informed that his administrative detention order was to be extended for a further four months. Mr Hmeidan was scheduled to be released on 21 March 2006. It was also reported that during the 3 January 2006 appeal hearing against the first extension of Mr Hmeidan’s detention order, the military court acknowledged that the public evidence against Mr Hmeidan was insufficient to justify his ongoing detention.
3. On 19 May 2006, the Special Rapportuer, jointly with the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders, sent an urgent appeal regarding Mr
Ziyad Muhammad Shehadeh Hmeidan
, human rights defender and fieldworker for Al-Haq, a Palestinian NGO and affiliate organization of the International Commission of Jurists which conducts research and advocacy works on human rights. Mr Hmeidan had already been the subject of four previously transmitted communications. According to the reply from the Government to a previous communication, administrative detention orders are limited to six-month periods and any extensions require re-evaluation of the relevant intelligence.
Government of Israel’s response to the Report of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders, under Item 17, dated 22 March 2006
Mr Hmeidan had been in administrative detention since 23 May 2005 and continued to be held at Kedziot prison. To the date of this communication, neither he nor his lawyer had been informed of the reasons for his arrest. It was however noted that the Government advised that Mr Hmeidan was “arrested on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities.”
Letter from the Mission of Israel of 11 July 2005 in response to communications of 7 June 2005 and 1 July 2005.
It was also noted that the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders visited Mr Hmeidan in prison during her official mission to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory in October 2005. According to information received, on 10 May 2006 a military judge decided to uphold the third extension of Mr Hmeidan’s administrative detention order. It was reported that Mr Hmeidan’s detention order would expire on 12 July 2006. The military order of 10 May 2006 represented the third extension of his original administrative detention issued on 30 May 2005 which was originally for 18 days. It was reported that each extension of the detention orders was done almost at the last minute, which caused severe anxiety and anguish to the detainee and their families, amounting to psychological torture. Grave concern was expressed that Mr Hmeidan’s order might be subject to indefinite renewal.
4. On 6 June 2006, the Special Rapporteur, jointly with the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders, sent an urgent appeal regarding Mr
Hassan Mustafa Hassan Zaga
, a researcher who works with the non-governmental organizations the
Public Committee Against Torture in Israel
. PCATI investigates complaints of torture or other ill-treatments and infringements of human rights by Israeli authorities and Ansar Asajeen provides legal aid to Palestinian detainees and prisoners. Mr Zaka was the subject of a previously sent urgent appeal. According to the new information received: on 22 May 2006, the decision to extend Mr Zaga's administrative detention order by four months was upheld by the Ketziot Military Court. It was reported that the reason given by the General Security Service was that Hassan Mustafa Hassan Zaka "endangers the security of the region". Mr Zaga had not been given the opportunity to refute the charges brought against him and he was still being held in Ketziot Detention Center.
5. On 18 July 2006, the Special Rapporteur sent an urgent appeal concerning several journalists. On 17 July 2006, Mr
's bureau chief in Israel, was arrested and detained while covering live the cross-border clashes with Lebanon in northern Israel. The journalist was interrogated, and reportedly mistreated, for more than four hours. Apparently, police had already arrested and questioned Mr Al-Omari on 16 July, when he spent the night in detention. On the same day, Israeli authorities shortly detained another
crew, including journalist
Elias Karr am
, who was reporting on developments in the city of Haifa. Israeli authorities had instructed the
crew to keep away from strategically sensitive sites. On a separate development, on 12 July 2006, reporter
and assistant cameraman
, working for the Lebanese television channel
, were seriously wounded during the attack against the al-Mahmoudiyeh Bridge in southern Lebanon, when their vehicle was hit and destroyed by bombs
6. On 25 July, the Special Rapporteur sent a letter of allegation concerning
a Lebanese press photographer
, Sleiman Chidia
a technician for the
TV station Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC)
, a correspondent for the television station Al-Hurra
a satellite technician with the TV channel
. On 23 July 2006,
was killed when a missile exploded near her car on the road between Cana et Siddiqin, while covering the bombing of southern Lebanon for the magazine
Al Jarass (The Bell)
. On the same day,
was killed in the bombing of media installations in Satka, in East Beirut. Other air strikes at Terbol, in northern Lebanon, resulted in the disruption of broadcasting of LBC, Avenir TV and Al-Manar in several parts of the country. In a separate incident, on 19 July 2006,
were wounded during an Israeli army operation in the city of Nablus, West Gaza. Reportedly, both Elwan and Tanous were wearing a vest labeled "TV" and were working from a remarkable distance from the fighting.
7. On 21 August 2006, the Special Rapporteur, jointly with the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and counter terrorism, sent a letter of allegation concerning Mr
, Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council. According to the information received, Mr Dweik, an academic aged 57 and member of Hamas, was elected Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council after the most recent elections. On 5 August 2006, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) surrounded Mr Dweik's house in Ramallah and took him into custody. From there he was taken to Ofer prison. On or around 10 August 2006, a court in Ofer decided to extend Mr Dweik's detention, for further eight days. In these proceedings he had the assistance of a lawyer. He was then transferred to the Kfar Youna detention centre. IDF has confirmed the detention of Mr Dweik, stating that it was justified by Hamas being listed as a terrorist organization. Mr Dweik remains in IDF detention. Israeli forces had already, on 29 June 2006, arrested eight members of the Palestinian Authority's government and 20 or more members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
8. On 4 September 2006, the Special Rapporteur sent a letter of allegation concerning reporter
, who was seriously injured in the leg and
, cameraman, who lost consciousness when an Israeli aircraft fired two missiles on their armored Reuters vehicle as they were following an Israeli Defense Forces incursion into the Gaza Strip on 27 of August 2006. Reportedly the vehicle was clearly marked with press identification signs on the roof and sides. The Special Rapporteur noted that similar incidents have been subject of previous communications sent on 25 July 2006 (ISR 15/2006) and 18 July 2006 (ISR 14/2006).
9. On 25 October 2006, the Special Rapporteur, jointly with the with the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders, sent a letter of allegation concerning the detention of
Mr Ahmad Abu Haniya
, a Palestinian human rights activist and Youth Project Coordinator in the Alternative Information Centre. This Centre is a joint Palestinian-Israeli organisation based in Jerusalem which promotes human rights and advocates social change in the region. Reportedly, on 22 May 2005,
Haniya was arrested at an Israeli military checkpoint on his way to work. He was subsequently detained under an administrative detention order and has been accused of membership of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP) and of a group called Al-Islamia. He was reported to be detained at Ketziot detention centre in the Negev. The administrative detention order against him was renewed twice since he was first detained. Under the terms of an administrative detention order, the authorities are neither required to file charges against the detainee nor to bring the case to trial. The order is usually for a determined period of time but is often renewed before it expires and it can be renewed indefinitely. Neither the defendant nor his legal representative are entitled to view the "classified" evidence against the defendant. The current order is due to expire on 15 November 2006, but it is feared that it may be renewed. Concern is expressed that
Ahmad Abu Haniya may be detained in order to prevent him from carrying out peaceful activities in defence of human rights.
Replies from the Government
10. By letter dated 7 August 2006, the Government replied to the communication of 18 July 2006 concerning several journalists. The Government of Israel explained that on the night of 16 July 2006, the police questioned
but did not arrest him or detainhim for interrogation. He was released after half an hour and did not spend the night in detention neither was mistreated. It was also indicated that the next morning, on 17 July 2006,
Al-Omari was again convoked for questioning by the police for violation of the censorships instructions. The Government reported that
Al-Omari was broadcasting live from the sites where the missiles hit, thereby violating the instructions published the day before by the censorship. During the whole period of questioning,
Al-Omari was accompanied by the lawyer of Al-Jazeera network. The Government informed that he was released after checking the footage he had taken did not infringe censorship instructions. As to
Elias Karram, the Government indicated in this response that the police had questioned him on 16 July 2006, the first day when the city of Haifa was targeted. The reason for the questioning was the wide-angle picture that
Karram had taken of the city of Haifa, giving the enemy a panoramic view of the sites where the missiles hit. The Government informed that he was released after two hours.
11. By letter 4 December 2006 the Government of Israel replied to the communication dated 25 of October 2006.
Follow-up to previously transmitted communications
12. By letter dated 26 May 2006, the Government of Israel responded to the urgent appeal sent on 26 July 2005 concerning
Mr Khalil Abu Shammala
. The Government stated that prior to 12 September 2005, whilst the State of Israel was in control of the border passages, Mr Shammala’s exit from the Gaza Strip was prevented for security reasons following intelligence gathered by the Security forces which indicated that Mr Shammala posed a security threat if allowed to leave the country. The Government indicated, that in accordance with the declaration signed by the Commander of the IDF Southern Command Unit on 12 September 2006, which confirmed the end of Israels military rule in the Gaza Strip, Mr Shammala’s movements from the Gaza Strip to Egypt were no longer under Israeli military control.
13. By letter dated 19 January 2006, the Government of Israel responded to the urgent appeal sent on 29 November 2005 concerning
Mr Ziyad Muhammad Shebedah Hmeidan
. The Government acknowledged receipt of the aforementioned communication sent on 29 November 2005 and indicated that it had been sent to the relevant authorities in Israel. The Government also noted that relevant information would be forwarded to the Special Representative, and the Special Rapporteur in due course.
14. By letter dated 1 November 2006, the Government of Israel responded to the urgent appeal sent on 26 July 2005 concerning
Mr Nabil Al Mazzawi
. The Government stated that the aforementioned case was referred from the Military Investigative Police to the Department for the Investigation of Police Officers as it was concluded that the matter referred to border police officers as opposed to servicemen. As such, the Government noted that a criminal investigation has been launched against the border police officers allegedly involved in the incident.
15. The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government for its replies and invites the Government to respond to the communications dated 20 January, 14 March, 19 May, 6 June, 25 July, 21 August and 4 September 2006.