On 6 July 2021, Al-Haq submitted an urgent appeal to the United Nations (UN) Special Procedures on the arbitrary detention of Farid al-Atrash, a human rights defender and the director of southern office of the Independent Commission for Human Rights, by the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) on 4 July 2021. Addressing six UN Special Rapporteurs, including the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, Al-Haq highlighted Israel’s policy of silencing those who oppose Israel’s unlawful policies and practices, and seek justice and accountability for violations committed against the Palestinian people, as a tool to maintain its apartheid regime.
At dawn of 4 July 2021, the IOF, stationed at the Israeli Container checkpoint in the Palestinian town of As-Sawahra Ash-Sharqiya, east of Bethlehem city, arbitrarily detained Farid as he was driving home from Ramallah city, where he participated in a protest against the killing of Nizar Banat. With his health deteriorating, Farid was transferred to Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, before he was then taken to the Atarot police station in Jerusalem, and finally to Ofer Prison, where he currently is detained, waiting for his trial which will take place on 7 July 2021.
Noting that the arrest of Farid illustrates Israel’s attempts to discourage individuals and organisations from documenting and highlighting consistent violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory, the urgent appeal further underscored the need to address Farid’s arbitrary detention within the broader context of Israel’s systematic policy of silencing of opposition to maintain its apartheid regime over the Palestinian people as a whole.
Overall, Al-Haq urged the UN Special Procedure mandates to:
- Call on Israel, the Occupying Power, to immediately release the human rights defender Farid al-Atrash;
- Urge Israel to immediately cease any and all practices and policies intended to intimidate and silence human rights defenders, in violation of their right to freedom of expression, including through arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment, institutionalised hate speech and incitement, residency revocation, deportations, and other coercive or punitive measures;
- Recognise and address silencing efforts as part of an apartheid regime imposed over the Palestinian people as a whole, and endorse the December 2019 concluding observations on Israel of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which recognised Israeli policies and practices of racial segregation and apartheid over Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line, and
- Recognise the state of impunity existing in Israel, which decisively renders the State unable and unwilling to hold itself accountable, and call for international justice and accountability, including at the International Criminal Court, for Israel’s widespread and systematic human rights violations, and alleged international crimes, including the crime of population transfer, and the crime of apartheid, which constitutes a crime against humanity.
Read the full urgent appeal here.