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Open letter to the Israeli authorities – Coalition statement

22 August 2002

Dear Sirs,

We are writing to raise our concern about what appear to be efforts to hinder or prevent Adalah: The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, an independent human rights nongovernmental organization, from continuing its very important work in defence of the human rights of Arab citizens of Israel. As one of our partner organizations in Israel/Palestine, we consider Adalah to be a highly professional and credible human rights NGO.

On 11 August 2002, Adalah learned through the Israeli media that an investigation is being opened into the organization on the grounds of undertaking activities beyond the scope of its mandate; control by a political party; and financial mismanagement.

The timing and manner of the Registrar of Associations’ action, only adds further to our concerns. The decision to open an investigation into Adalah comes at a time when the organization is involved in several important cases affecting members of the Arab minority community and follows the introduction of several laws and policies aimed at restricting the rights of Arab citizens of Israel. Examples of such recent cases on which Adalah has worked include draft laws relating to the cancellation of family unification of Israeli citizens who marry non-citizen Palestinian spouses; the cutting of child allowances to those children whose parents did not serve in the military; and the revocation of citizenship of Arab citizens of Israel.

Over the years, Adalah has brought numerous important cases before the Israeli Supreme Court that address key issues relating to Arab citizens of Israel, including the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Arab minority. In addition, Adalah has ably undertaken several high-profile representations of political leaders and public representatives and has represented the families of Arab citizens killed in October 2000 before the Or Commission. Adalah also plays an important role in raising the issue of minorities in international fora.

Our concerns about this investigation are further heightened by the manner in which this investigation has been announced, through the Israeli media, and the failure of the authorities to provide formal notification to the Center.

We urge you actively to ensure that any investigation be conducted transparently and in conformity with the relevant laws in Israel. We seek your assurances that Adalah, and all other human rights organizations, are allowed to exercise their rights without hindrance under the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which was adopted in 1998 by all countries taking part to the United Nations General Assembly, including Israel.

Yours respectfully,

Amnesty International
Avocats Sans Frontières – Belgique
Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network
Front Line – The International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Human Rights Watch International
Federation for Human Rights – FIDH
Minority Rights Group International
Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a joint programme of the FIDH and the OMCT)
World Organisation Against Torture – OMCT