On 8 August 2019 Al-Haq submitted a joint urgent appeal to the UN Special Procedures on the ongoing smear campaign and incitement to violence including death threats carried out by the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs against Al-Haq and its staff on Facebook and other public platforms. This joint urgent appeal comes in light of several Facebook posts made by or on behalf of the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs on its official Facebook page as part of Israel’s wider effort to restrict civil society space in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).
The Facebook posts on the Ministry’s page occurred in the context of ongoing, systematic, and organised attacks amounting to an intensive smear campaign against Al-Haq and its staff members, including its esteemed General Director, Mr. Shawan Jabarin. This smear campaign must be viewed and understood in light of attacks against Palestinian civil society, including human rights organisations, as a whole. The smear campaign is a malignant targeting by Israel of Mr Jabarin, as well as other staff members of Al-Haq, who it has subjected to numerous attacks over the years in an attempt to derail their critical human rights monitoring and documentation of Israel’s violations of international humanitarian and international human rights law, legal research and advocacy work.
As such, Al-Haq calls on the UN Special Procedures to take immediate and collective action to halt the ongoing online incitement by Israel, the Occupying Power, and to intervene directly with Facebook to remove content that violates international human rights law and Facebook’s own community standards.
Al-Haq calls on the UN Special Procedures to urgently take steps in relation to the ongoing smear campaign and incitement to violence. Al Haq calls on the international community to intervene to halt Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, smearing of human rights defenders and activists, the restriction of their work and recalling the right to freedom of expression, among others, particularly online and on social media platforms.
UN Special Procedures should gather all relevant information, including by approaching Facebook directly, relating to the present alleged violation of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, in addition to discrimination against, threats or use of violence, and acts of harassment, persecution, or intimidation directed at Mr Shawan Jabarin and any other staff members of Al-Haq or its affiliates.
UN Special Procedures should communicate with Facebook to remind the company of its responsibilities to respect human rights and international law, as well as its responsibility to not provide a public platform for incitement, hate speech, discrimination, and death threats, especially against human rights defenders.
The Special Procedures should seek information from Facebook as to why such posts and comments continue to be allowed and have not been removed or moderated in any way despite their violation of international human rights law standards, including the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
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