26 April 2016

We are outraged by Israel’s refusal to allow our colleagues to attend the Bertha Justice Initiative conference in South Africa.

We are non-profit public-interest law firms and lawyers defending human rights and the rule of law in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. A group from our network just attended an international legal conference for the enrichment of young human rights lawyers near Cape Town, South Africa. We are outraged that Israel has prevented our colleagues from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) from joining them there.

Israel refused permission for the seven-person delegation from PCHR to pass through its territory, despite many detailed letters being sent explaining the educational purpose of the travel.

This is the second time this has happened. In March 2014, our PCHR colleagues were prevented from participating in the same conference. In view of this, we cannot help but ask whether the Gaza Strip, under Israel’s occupation, is a giant open air prison.

Writing to us about the denial of their right to freedom of movement, our colleagues at PCHR stated: “It is just another part of the Israeli occupation, which we continue to challenge in the hopes of promoting human rights, redressing victims and bringing justice.”

While in South Africa we were conscious of Nelson Mandela’s statement: “We South Africans cannot feel free until the Palestinians are free.” That is the attitude we take home to movements in our countries across the world.

Signed:

The Bertha Justice Initiative

Association Tchadienne pour la Promotion et la Défense des Droits de l’Homme, ATPDH

Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, BAI

Centre for Applied Legal Studies, CALS

Colectivo de Abogados “Jose Alevear Restrepo”, CCAJAR

Center for Constitutional Rights, CCR

Center for International Law, CenterLaw

European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, ECCHR

Equal Education Law Center, EELC

EarthRights International, ERI

Foundation for Fundamental Rights, FFR

Human Rights Law Network, HRLN

Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, IJDH

Legal Resources Centre, LRC

Proyecto de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales, PRODESC

Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa, SERI