IBAHRI calls on Israel to release the arbitrarily detained French-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hammouri

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) calls for the immediate release from Hadarim Prison of Salah Hammouri, a French-Palestinian lawyer and human rights defender. Hammouri has been arrested and deprived of his liberty by Israeli authorities since March 2022 under ‘administrative detention’ – a system of imprisonment without charge, trial or time limit. This type of detention alleges that a person plans to commit a future offence, with the evidence on which allegations are based undisclosed.

Reports indicate that there are currently more than 730 Palestinians in administrative detention in Israel.

Anne Ramberg, Dr Jur hc IBAHRI Co-Chair and Immediate Past Secretary General of the Swedish Bar Association, commented: ‘The IBAHRI calls on the Israeli authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Salah Hammouri from Hadarim Prison. Israel’s detention of Hammouri without charge or trial run contrary to international law and must be immediately and unconditionally reversed. Israel is using counterterrorism legislation to target human rights defenders, like Mr Hammouri, with unsubstantiated allegations. The purpose of these actions can only be to create a chilling effect to try to deter lawyers from carrying out their legitimate work of documenting human rights violations committed in the state. It appears that Israel systematically persecutes Palestinian human rights defenders, including lawyers as well as civil society organisations (CSOs). The IBAHRI condemns such actions by the State of Israel as well as the restrictions to due process rights and unreasonable detention.’

On 7 March 2022 Hammouri was arrested without charge. On 10 March 2022 he received an administrative detention order for three months. His detention was renewed for the first time on 5 June 2022. On 4 September 2022, the Israeli authorities ordered a second renewal of Hammouri’s administrative detention for an additional three months. Israel’s authorities say that the order for Hammouri’s detention is based on ‘secret’ information, a claim that prevents his legal representative from accessing the evidence required to challenge the case.

Hammouri’s current detainment represents a continuation of the harassment and persecution that, according to him, he has faced for years due to his work defending human rights. He has sustained a bullet injury, been placed under surveillance, arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned several times, had his family life interrupted, and received travel bans and fines.

In October 2021, Hammouri’s permanent residency status in Jerusalem was revoked by Israeli forces because of an alleged breach of allegiance to the Israeli State and engagement with ‘terrorist’ activities and organisations. In the same month, the government designated Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, the organisation for which Hammouri has worked since 2014, and five other Palestinian CSOs as ‘terrorist organisations’, thereby restricting their ability to defend Palestinian prisoners and detainees.

Mark Stephens, IBAHRI Co-Chair CBE, stated: ‘The vagueness of “secret evidence” as a policy undermines international fair trial principles. Israeli courts are obliged under international law to ensure that these rights are guaranteed under the principle of habeas corpus to ensure that lawful grounds are demonstrated before limiting an individual’s right to liberty and security. As it stands, Israeli forces are holding Salah Hammouri in detention arbitrarily, with no regard for his due process rights. If his residency status is revoked, it could set a dangerous precedent for the expulsion of other Palestinians from Jerusalem whilst under detention. The IBAHRI calls on Israeli authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Salah Hammouri from Hadarim Prison, reverse the order to revoke his residency status in Jerusalem and end the systemic harassment and persecution against Hammouri and other Palestinian lawyers and CSOs.’