Sunday, November 29, 2020

Amnesty International employee denied travel outside the West Bank

By K. Künzl - November 05, 2019
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Human rights]

Palestinian employee, Laith Abu Zeyad, for human rights organisation Amnesty International has been barred by Israel’s Shin Bet security force from travelling outside the West Bank. 

Zeyad, who works as a campaigner on Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories for the human rights group, was travelling to a relative’s funeral in Jordan on 26 October when he was stopped at King Hussein/Allenby border crossing.

After hours in detention Zeyad was informed he was banned from travelling outside the West Bank for reasons Shin Bet described as “serious security considerations”.

Zeyad outspokenly called the government’s rational “completely false and ridiculous” labelling the move as a “punitive measure” against the work of him and colleagues at Amnesty International.


While Shin Bet has denied the decision has anything to do with Zeyad’s employment for the human rights group, they have refused to make public any evidence justifying the travel ban.

Kumi Naidoo, the secretary-general of Amnesty International released a statement Thursday, calling the travel ban “a sinister move imposed as punishment for (Abu Zeyad’s) work defending human rights of Palestinians”.

Naidoo went on to call the ban a violation of “Laith’s rights to freedom of movement and association” claiming that this incident “further illustrates the Israeli authorities’ chilling resolve to silence human rights organisations and activists who are critical of the government”. 

However, Zeyad is not the first human rights activist and government critic to receive a travel ban by Israel.  

In a statement published on the Amnesty website, the organisation described Israel’s “track record of using arbitrary travel bans to harass and intimidate human rights defenders and peaceful activists” referencing the bans against the co-founder of the BDS movement, Omar Barghouthi, and Director of Palestinian rights organisation al-Haq, Shawan Jabarin.

Zeyad was denied a humanitarian permit to enter East Jerusalem last September in order to accompany his mother for chemotherapy treatments on the basis of “security concerns” Israeli officials claimed.

“While such travel bans can be challenged in Israeli courts, the process is often long and arduous and the bans are usually upheld,” Al Jazeera reported

Zeyad believes the travel bans to be part of a larger smear campaign by the Israeli government to oppress and discredit human rights activist. 

Naidoo called for an immediate release of the ban for Zeyad and “all other Palestinian human rights defenders who are daring to speak out about Israel’s systemic discrimination and human rights violations against Palestinians”.

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