Issa Amro Arrested by Palestinian Authority for Facebook Post
On 10 September 2017, the Palestinian Authority released Issa Amro on bail of 1000 Dinars (approximately 1180 euro). The human rights defender faces charges of “inciting strife” as well as “publishing material that endangers the integrity of the public order of the state” under Article 20 of the 2017 Electronic Crimes Law. If found guilty, Issa Amro could face a year in prison and/or a fine of between 1000 and 5000 Dinars.
Issa is founder and coordinator of Youth Against Settlements (YAS), a group of human rights defenders that strengthens the local community’s steadfastness against the expansion of illegal settlements and documents human right violations. For local and international media YAS is often the first source of information from the ground.
On 7 September 2017, the Hebron district court charged human rights defender Issa Amro with “disruption of public order”, “insulting the authorities”, and “inciting strife” in a closed hearing, under the 2017 Electronic Crimes Law. The court also extended the human rights defender’s detention for an additional four days.
On 4 September 2017 around midday, Issa Amro was arrested by Palestinian Preventative Security Forces. His arrest is in connection with the publishing of a Facebook post in which the human rights defender criticized the arrest of a journalist by the Palestinian Authority the previous day. Issa Amro has reported ill treatment during his detention, including being subjected to physical assault, death threats and verbal attacks.
The 2017 Electronic Crimes Law has been criticized by rights groups including Addameer for its broad definitition of what constitutes a punishable offense. Human rights organisations are concerned that the law will be used as a means to criminalise and crackdown on expressions of dissent online.
The human rights defender has also faced continued harassment by Israeli authorities, including military trial, physical assault, threats and intimidation which led several United Nations Special Rapporteurs to express their concern in a communication to the government.
Front Line Defenders condemns the arrest and ill-treatment of human rights defender Issa Amro as it believes that he is being held in connection with his legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights.
Front Line Defenders urges the Palestinian Authority to:
1. Immediately and unconditionally release and drop all charges against Issa Amro, as Front Line Defenders believes that he is being held as a result of the legitimate exercise of his right to freedom of opinion and expression.
2. Ensure that the treatment of Issa Amro, while in detention, adheres to the conditions set out in the ‘Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment', adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988;
3. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the accounts of ill treatment against Issa Amro with a view to publishing the results and bringing those accountable to justice in accordance with international standards;
4. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Palestine are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.