EMHRN Delegation Denied Permit To Enter Gaza

EMHRN Delegation Denied Permit To Enter Gaza

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) condemns Israeli decision not to deliver entry permits to the members of the EMHRN working group on Palestine, Israel and Palestinians (PIP), and consequently to deny them the possibility to hold their bi-annual meeting in Gaza City and gathering first-hand information on the humanitarian and human rights situation in the Gaza Strip from 1 to 5 April 2009.

Since the end of the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, human rights organization access to the Gaza Strip through Erez has been blocked.

This permit denial is only one aspect of the tight closure the population of the Gaza Strip is facing after the Israeli ceasefire.

For over two years now, the Israeli authorities have prevented Israeli, Palestinian and European member human rights organisations of the EMHRN PIP working group to meet with their partners in the Gaza Strip, namely Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, by denying exit permits to these.

The EMHRN strongly condemns the restriction imposed on the freedom of movement of human rights defenders (HRDs) by the Israeli authorities, which not only denies their right to freedom of movement, enshrined in the UN declaration on human rights defenders (HRDs) adopted by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, but is also counter-productive for the peace process.

The EMHRN also reiterates its condemnation of the lack of access into the area for urgently-needed humanitarian and reconstruction materials.

The EMHRN urges the Israeli authorities to immediately allow all human rights defenders to enter and exit the Gaza Strip freely and to conform with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders especially its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”.

In accordance with the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, which recognise the importance “to protect the rights of human rights defenders”, the EMHRN call upon the EU and its Member States to:

1.Hold Israel accountable for this type of incident, and other incidents concerning the freedom of movement of HRDs.

2.Request from Israel that, since it maintains its control on the movement of people travelling in and out of the Palestinian Occupied Territory, it ensures that permits are delivered at each and every legitimate request of HRDs to enter or leave the Gaza Strip to carry out their work.

3.Adopt a common position in order to raise any permit request from a HRD to enter or exit the Gaza Strip at the highest level with the Israeli authorities.