At approximately 12:30 pm on Tuesday, 16 August 2016, the security forces from Gaza’s government prevented Dr. Kamal Al Shrafi from traveling via Erez crossing. Dr. Al Shrafi is the President’s Consultant for Human Rights and recently appointed Chancellor of Al Aqsa University in Gaza. In his affidavit to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Al Mezan), Dr. Al Shrafi stated that he went, as usual, to Erez crossing to travel to Ramallah in the West Bank. When he approached the customs checkpoint to pass Erez crossing, the Palestinian police officers and security forces stopped him from passing. Dr. Al Shrafi was informed that he was being prevented from traveling, although he was not notified of the reasons behind the prevention.
Al Mezan strongly condemns the authorities’ decision to block the passage of Dr. Al Shrafi. Al Mezan emphasizes that the right to free movement and travel is a fundamental right and is ensured and protected by Palestinian law as well as international human rights law. Article (11) clause (2) of the Palestinian Basic Law states that: “[i]t is unlawful to arrest, search, imprison, restrict the freedom, or prevent the movement of any person, except by judicial order in accordance with the provisions of the law.” The law limits the restrictions placed on movement and travel to a judicial order, without which the restriction is considered a violation of the law. Article (10), clause (1) of the same law states that: “[b]asic human rights and liberties shall be protected and respected.
Article (12) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states as follows: “1. Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence. 2. Everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own. 3. The above-mentioned rights shall not be subject to any restrictions except those which are provided by law, are necessary to protect national security, public order (ordre public), public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others, and are consistent with the other rights recognized in the present Covenant.”
Palestine became a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 2014. The Covenant is binding on the Palestinian Authority and the security forces.
Al Mezan calls for the free passage of Dr. Al Shrafi, as is his basic right. Al Mezan calls for the appropriate procedures to be taken to ensure the respect of individuals’ rights to travel and to move in accordance with Palestinian law and the obligations under human rights conventions. Al Mezan calls on the concerned authorities to investigate this incident and to bring the perpetrators to justice.