Israel slaps travel ban on NGO figure
Published Thursday, August 9, 2012
A Palestinian body representing NGOs has condemned a decision by Israeli authorities to prevent a leading human rights advocate from traveling outside the country.
The Palestinian Council of Human Rights Organizations (PCHRO) on Thursday slammed the travel ban imposed on Abdullatif Ghaith, co-founder of the prisoners' rights group Addameer.
Earlier this month Ghaith received a summons from Israeli intelligence demanding he appear at an Israeli interrogation center in Jerusalem.
Upon arrival he was ordered to sign an order banning him from traveling abroad, which will stay in place until 31 January 2013.
The order claims that 71-year-old Ghaith constitutes a threat to "state security," but the PCHRO said Israel usually considers human rights workers involved in the Occupied Territories a security threat.
The statement said Ghaith's travel ban was part of a "systematic attempt by Israel to suppress Palestinian civil society and stifle Palestinian development, while strengthening Israel’s occupation."
"The PCHRO strongly condemns the travel ban imposed on Mr. Ghaith and continued Israeli attempts to silence Palestinian civil society," the statement said.
"The ban on Mr. Ghaith not only violates his fundamental human rights, namely his right to freedom of movement, but also disregards the special protections afforded to him... according to the United Nations General Assembly Declaration on human rights defenders."
Ghaith is currently banned from traveling to the West Bank and has been held without charge in Israeli jails three times, each lasting for six months.
The PCHRO called for "the international community to intervene immediately with the Israeli authorities to lift all bans restricting Mr. Ghaith’s freedom of movement so that he may continue to carry out his human rights work unimpeded."
Ghaith's Addameer has played a prominent role in highlighting Israel's violations of Palestinian prisoner rights, including the draconian administrative detention policy, which allows Israel to detain Palestinians without charge for renewable six month periods.
Israel maintains a military occupation of the West Bank, and imposes severe restrictions on indigenous Palestinians, drawing accusations from activists of apartheid.