Urgent Action Update: Human Rights Defender's Trial Postponed (Israel/OPT: UA 276/13)

Urgent Action
February 15, 2017
A hearing on 6 December should have been the last opportunity for the Israeli military prosecution to produce the witnesses in the case against Palestinian lawyer – and former prisoner of conscience – Anas Barghouti. The hearing was again adjourned until 24 January despite the prosecution failing to bring the witnesses to court.
Anas Barghouti, aged 33, is a Palestinian lawyer and human rights defender. A hearing on 6 December at Ofer military court, in the occupied West Bank, should have been the last opportunity for the Israeli military prosecutor to bring the witnesses in a case against Anas Barghouti on charges of “membership of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine” (PFLP), an organization which Israel has banned, and “leadership of a committee to organize demonstrations”. He denies both charges. Originally arrested on 15 September 2013, Anas Barghouti was released on bail on 23 October 2013 because a military judge ruled that there was not sufficient evidence against him to consider him a security threat. Anas Barghouti has had to attend court every three months since he was released on bail, but each time the military prosecution has failed to produce the witnesses against him.
At the 6 December 2016 hearing, the judge granted the prosecution another chance by issuing an arrest warrant for one of the witnesses. The witness had previously not responded to summons to the court. Palestinians frequently do not respond to such summons because they do not want to cooperate with an institution of the Israeli military occupation. It is unclear why the judge waited three years to issue such a warrant, a commonly used tool. Anas Barghouti’s legal team from Addameer, a Palestinian prisoners’ rights organization, fear that this will allow the case to continue for a long period of time, as judges often accept reasons such as “lack of forces” or “security” for subsequent failures by the prosecution to present the witnesses. This would necessitate further hearings, meaning more days in court for Anas Barghouti. Amnesty International has in the past expressed concern in certain cases that repeated and unjustified delays in trials were themselves a method of punishing Palestinians who were either detained or on bail. Palestinians in the occupied West Bank face unfair trial before an Israeli military court, whose proceedings fall short of international standards.
Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:
  • Calling on the Israeli authorities to drop all charges against Anas Barghouti, and pointing out that if convicted and imprisoned Amnesty International would consider him a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for his work as a lawyer on behalf of prisoners and for the peaceful expression of his political views;
  • Calling on them to put an immediate end to harassment of Anas Barghouti and other human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territories;
  • Calling on them to immediately lift the travel ban imposed on Anas Barghouti.

Contact these two officials by 25 January, 2017:

Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu 
Office of the Prime Minister
3 Kaplan St, PO Box 187
Kiryat Ben-Gurion
Jerusalem 91950, Israel
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister
PDF version: 
Word version: