UN experts: Drop charges against Palestinian Hebron activist

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY SARAH BENHAIDA Issa Amro from the Palestinian activist group Youth Against Settlements, inspects one of the group's offices on November 8, 2015, that was recently raided by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. Hebron, the West Bank's largest city, has long been among the tensest points of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict due largely to the presence of around 500 Jewish settlers in the centre of around 200,000 Palestinians. AFP PHOTO/HAZEM BADER / AFP PHOTO / HAZEM BADER

The United Nations has urged Israel to abide by international law as it reactivates charges against a prominent Palestinian human rights defender.

Issa Amro, an advocate of non-violent resistance, co-founded the grassroots group Youth Against Settlements, which has relentlessly campaigned against the Israeli military’s shutdown of the once-thriving and historic Palestinian neighbourhood around Shuhada Street. The area was on Friday declared part of a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Their activities have included running a community centre, organising protest marches and opposing the many restrictions placed by the military on daily Palestinian life.

But Israeli authorities accuse Amro of “insulting a soldier,” “assault” and demonstrating without a permit.

“On the information available to us, many of the charges against [Issa] Amro appear to be directed squarely at his lawful right to peacefully protest against the 50-year-old Israeli occupation,” said Michel Forst, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights defender and Michael Lynk, the special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, in a statement on Friday.

“If the Israeli military court convicts Mr Amro on any of the charges against him, the convictions will be stained by reasonable doubts about the system’s ability to ensure justice,” they added.
Read full report from Middle East Eye