A group of UN human rights experts urged Monday 25 April 2022 the international community to take effective steps and resume funding for six Palestinian civil society organizations that were labeled in October 2021 as ‘terrorist organizations’ by the Israeli occupation.
The experts said that the designation of these organizations as ‘terrorist organizations’ by the Israeli occupation “has not been accompanied by any public concrete and credible evidence,” adding that the information presented by the Israeli occupation has also failed to convince a number of governments and international organizations.
Israeli occupation labeled last October six Palestinian civil society organizations, namely Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Haq, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defense for Children International – Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, and the Union of Palestinian Women Committees, as terrorist organizations, in an attempt to seize their assets, end their work.
Meanwhile, the experts added, “Israel has had six months to substantiate its accusations and it has failed to deliver”.
The European Union has formally suspended its funding for two of these organizations. This has undermined the work of these Palestinian organizations and has had an incalculable impact on the communities they support.
“We are deeply disturbed by Israel’s apparent misuse of anti-terrorism legislation to attack some of the leading civil society organizations in Palestine. Such misuse must be rejected and countered,” the experts said.
“The United Nations has been very clear that the drafting and application of anti-terrorism laws have to be rigorously consistent with international law and human rights protections, including the principles of legal certainty, necessity, proportionality, the rule of law and non-discrimination.”
The experts emphasized that they recognize and applaud the indispensable work of Palestinian civil society in holding Israel accountable for its occupation and human rights violations and in promoting democratic principles and human rights within Palestinian society.
“Applying anti-terrorism laws to well-regarded human rights defenders and civil society organizations – without persuasive evidence to substantiate these claims – seems to indicate a politically-motivated attempt by Israel to silence some of its most effective critics in violation of their rights to freedom of association and of expression,” they said.
“If the international community is serious about its support for Palestinian self-determination and an end to the 55-year-old Israeli occupation, it must become more vocal and assertive in defending the work of these organizations, and reminding Israel of its international human rights obligations.”
They called on the funding governments to conclude that the Israeli occupation has not established its allegations and to announce that they will continue to support these organizations.
They also demanded that the Israeli occupation retract the designations and cease its harassment of all human rights and civil society organizations which promote human rights and accountability.