Israel has cancelled Omar Shakir’s work permit by claiming that it has supported BDS. UN experts say the decision appears to have “nothing to do with illegal behaviour”.
UN experts in the fields of human rights and freedom of expression have criticized Israel for cancelling the work permit of Omar Shakir, Director of Human Rights Watch for Israel and Palestine, in a statement issued on Thursday by the office of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, calling Israel’s decision a judgment that “threatens the defence of human rights, the right to investigate and freedom of expression for all and reflects a disturbing opposition to free and open debate. “The statement, signed by Michael Lynk (UN Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories), Michael Forst (Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders) and David Kaye (Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression), further stated that “the reasons for the cancellation of Mr. Shakir’s work permit appear to be directly related to his defence of human rights, and have no bearing on any claim of illegal behaviour. »
Last week, the Jerusalem District Court rejected a request by Shakir to stop his expulsion. Shakir, who is a U.S. citizen, had his residence permit cancelled by Interior Minister Arye Dery last May for what the minister considered to be “his activity against Israel. “Dery took this decision after the Ministry of Strategic Affairs issued a directive stating that Shaker “retwitches and frequently shares BDS content against Israel,” a reference to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.The district court delayed Shakir’s expulsion to allow him to appeal to the Supreme Court, and Shakir, who is a Doctor of Laws from Stanford University in California, said the action against him is part of a broader set of measures taken by the Israeli government to harass Human Rights Watch and human rights activists in general. An initial decision to expel him was made about six months ago, but since then he has remained in Israel. None of the evidence gathered includes information that would suggest that Shakir was active in the BDS movement.” We urge Israel to revoke the order, in order to allow Mr. Shakir and Human Rights Watch to continue to defend human rights without hindrance, and to fully respect its human rights obligations in its relations with Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights organizations,” the experts concluded in their statement.