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Khitam Saafin Sentenced After Plea Deal

Status: 
Plea Deal
About the situation

On 13 February 2022, woman human rights defender Khitam Saafin was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment and a fine of 1,500 Israeli shekels (€420) in a plea deal. She confessed to being a member the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and to being president of the Union of Palestinian Women Committees, which has since become a banned organisation by decree.

On 9 November 2020, an Israeli military commander ordered woman human rights defender Khitam Saafin to be placed under administrative detention for six months. This was reduced to four months the following day upon review. The detention was based on “secret” evidence, that has yet to be made known to her or her lawyer.

About Khitam Saafin

Khitam Saafin is a women’s rights defender, president of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees and member of the General Secretariat of the General Union of Palestinian Women. Her work focuses on empowering Palestinian women and advocating against human rights violations resulting from the Israeli occupation.

4 March 2022
Khitam Saafin sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment

On 13 February 2022, woman human rights defender Khitam Saafin was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment and a fine of 1,500 Israeli shekels (€420) in a plea deal. She confessed to being a member the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and to being president of the Union of Palestinian Women Committees, which has since become a banned organisation by decree. The original charges had included a broad list of other alleged activities Saafin engaged in on behalf of the PFLP, as well as tying her to the other five organizations that have been accused of fundraising for the group. The updated charges no longer accused her of being part of a committee of the PFLP, which is an “EU designated terrorist group,” as its armed wing has carried out attacks on Israelis.

Khitam Saafin is a women’s rights defender, president of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees and member of the General Secretariat of the General Union of Palestinian Women. Her work focuses on empowering Palestinian women and advocating against human rights violations resulting from the Israeli occupation.

On 2 November 2020, Khitam Saafin was arrested and held in administrative detention without charges until 8 June 2021 when the initial indictment was filled. The detention was based on “secret” evidence, that has never been communicated to her or her lawyer. The indictment cancelled the administrative detention order and placed Khitam Saafin in pretrial incarceration on unsubstantiated charges, including “membership in a terrorist organisation.”

According to Khitam, she agreed to the plea agreement, as it removed any referral to ‘terrorism’ or ‘supporting a terrorist organisation’, and was the only way to move forward with her life and work. She is expected to be released in May, as much of the time she has already served will be accounted for in the sentence. The use of fabricated charges against Palestinian human rights defenders by Israel is a common tactic used to criminalise all civil society activities, particularly those that document and report on the Israeli occupation. The case against Khitam is a classic example of how, despite discredited ‘evidence’, Palestinian HRDs are still unable to receive any measure of justice in what has been documented as an ‘apartheid’ system.

13 November 2020
Administrative detention of woman human rights defender Khitam Saafin

On 9 November 2020, an Israeli military commander ordered woman human rights defender Khitam Saafin to be placed under administrative detention for six months. This was reduced to four months the following day upon review. The detention was based on “secret” evidence, that has yet to be made known to her or her lawyer.

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Khitam Saafin is a women’s rights defender, president of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees and member of the General Secretariat of the General Union of Palestinian Women. Her work focuses on empowering Palestinian women and advocating against human rights violations resulting from the Israeli occupation.

On 2 November 2020, several Israeli soldiers raided the house of Khitam Saafin in Al-Bireh in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and arrested her. Without being informed of the charges she faces, she was transferred to Hasharon Prison in Israel, in breach of the IV Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of prisoners out of occupied territory. While the woman human rights defender has had access to her lawyer, she has not been permitted to receive family visits. According to her lawyer, the Red Cross will apply for a permit from the prison administration to grant her visitation rights.

On 9 November 2020, an Israeli military commander ordered Khitam Saafin to be placed in administrative detention for six months. The order was made on the basis of alleged secret evidence, which has not been disclosed to the woman human rights defender or her lawyer. Administrative detention is a policy used by the Israeli authorities in the OPT , where individuals can be detained for up to six months without charges; the detention can be renewed repeatedly without end. Administration detention is considered to be a punitive tool used by the Israeli occupying authorities to suppress peaceful and legitimate human rights activities of Palestinians. On 10 November 2020, a Khitam Saafin’s administrative detention was reduced from six to four months, following a review.

Woman human rights defender Khitam Saafin has been frequently harassed by Israeli authorities. In July 2017, she was placed in administrative detention for three months, in a case also based on secret evidence.

Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned by the recent administrative detention of Khitam Saafin. It believes that the woman human rights defender is being targetted by the Israeli authorities solely as a result of her peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights.