Geneva, ALRAY - UN human rights experts on Monday vehemently and unequivocally denounced a decision by the Israeli occupation to designate six Palestinian human rights organisations as "terrorist groups."
“This designation is a frontal attack on the Palestinian human rights movement, and on human rights everywhere,” said the experts in a joint statement.
"Silencing their voices is not what a democracy adhering to well-accepted human rights and humanitarian standards would do," they added, calling on the international community to defend human rights advocates.
They explained that anti-terrorism legislation is designed for a specific and restricted purpose, and must not be used to unjustifiably undermine civil liberties or to curtail the legitimate work of human rights organisations.
They continued: "The United Nations Security Council, the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council have all been clear about the requirement to apply counter-terrorism measures in a manner which is consistent with international law and does not violate States international obligations."
They stressed that the " egregious" misuse of such measures by the Israeli occupation government "undermines the security of all," calling for freedoms of association and expression to be fully respected to enable civil society to perform its indispensable work.
This designation effectively bans the groups by allowing the Israeli occupation army to arrest their workers, shut down their offices, freeze their funds, and prohibit their human rights work, the experts affirmed.
The experts voiced their concern the decision, at least in the case of one of the organisations, was taken as an act of revenge for cooperation with UN groups.
They pointed out that the Israeli occupation military has repeatedly targeted human rights defenders in recent years as it continues to entrench its occupation and defy international law.
“While international and Israeli human rights organizations have faced heavy criticism, legislative restrictions and even deportations, Palestinian human rights defenders have always encountered the severest constraints,” noted the experts.
The experts called on the international community to use its full range of political and diplomatic tools to demand the Israeli occupation reverse this decision.