70 NGOs Address UN Debate for Jailed Palestinian Peace Activist Rami Aman

GENEVA, September 21, 2020 –  A coalition of 70 NGOs today addressed the plenary of the 47-nation United Nations Human Rights Council in a joint statement in support of their legal complaint with the UN to demand the release of Rami Aman, a Palestinian peace activist who has been famously jailed by Hamas since April 9th for having organized a Zoom video call between Israeli and Palestinian peace activists.

On September 17th, in advance of today’s UNHRC debate with the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the United Nations published the NGOs’ written summary of the complaint as an official UN document, A/HRC/45/NGO/149.

Following is today’s joint speech as delivered by Hillel Neuer, executive director of United Nations Watch, an independent Swiss human rights group, in the UNHRC interactive dialogue with Ms. Leigh Toomey, Chair of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention:

Madam Chair, I deliver this statement on the petition for the release of Rami Aman, filed with your Working Group by 70 United Nations accredited NGOs, as described in HRC/45/NGO/149.

Our coalition includes Global Human Rights Defense, Forum Méditerranéen pour la Promotion des Droits du Citoyen, the Japanese Association for the Right to Freedom of Speech, and 67 other NGOs from Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, France, Ghana, India, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Switzerland, and other countries.

Palestinian peace activist Rami Aman was arrested by Hamas on April 9th. His crime? Organizing a Zoom call between Israeli and Palestinian peace activists.

He has been arbitrarily detained in Gaza for 165 days, in flagrant violation of international law. In May, Amnesty International recognized Rami Aman as a Prisoner of Conscience.

Our joint complaint demonstrates how the due process rights of Mr. Aman are being egregiously violated.

He has not yet been charged, and never had an opportunity to challenge his detention in court, in breach of Article 14 of the ICCPR.

The detention of Rami Aman constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of liberty on multiple grounds.

Ms. Toomey, UN treaty bodies have held the Palestinian Authority responsible for Hamas activity in Gaza. Will the Working Group hold both accountable?”

See the full list of NGOs in the annex to their complaint.

Rulings of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention are not legally binding, but are cited by judges worldwide and can exert pressure on governments to release those imprisoned without due process.

The coalition sent letters to governments urging them to speak out for Rami Aman’s release, including to the foreign ministers of AustraliaAustria, Canada, Czech RepublicDenmarkFranceGermany, Ireland, Italy, NetherlandsSpainSwedenSwitzerland, and the UK.
“Hamas’s arbitrary and unlawful arrest and detention of Mr. Aman for the crime of ‘normalization’ is part of a pattern of repression and intimidation against dissidents who dare to speak out against the authoritarian regime,” added Hillel Neuer in a press statement.

“Our complaint seeks to hold Hamas — and the Palestinian Authority, which claims jurisdiction in Gaza — accountable for the wrongful imprisonment of Mr. Aman, a violation of international law and of Mr. Aman’s universal human rights.

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