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Al Mezan Condemns Travel Ban of Human Rights Defenders by Gaza Security

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13 May 2013 |Reference 30/2013

At approximately 11am on Sunday 12 May 2013 the Gaza government's Internal Security Apparatus (ISA) stopped two human rights defenders at the Palestinian side of Erez Crossing, north of the Gaza Strip.
The two defenders, Iyad Al Alami and Mohammed Bseeso are attorneys at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and were on their way to the West Bank to follow up on human rights cases on which they work.
After waiting for 30 minutes, the ISA informed the two activists that they were not allowed to pass through the checkpoint and they should report to the Ministry of Interior in Gaza to obtain a travel permit.
Al Mezan strongly condemns the restrictions on movement of human rights defenders in such an unlawful manner.
The restrictions placed by the Gaza government on movement via Erez Crossing are problematic practically and infringe on Palestinians' rights and freedoms, protected under the Palestinian Basic Law.
Al Mezan asserts the following: Palestinian Basic Law protects the right of Palestinians to enjoy their freedom of movement and travel.
Restrictions on this right can only be placed by a court order.
The Basic Law grants this right to all Palestinians, while restrictions or bans are limited to individual cases.
Restrictions that aim to ensure that a limited number of individuals are unable to leave the territory for criminal reasons must not be organized in a way that foils the legal rights of the entire society.
Only a few categories of Palestinians are using this crossing now due to Israeli restrictions on movement.
Only people who have humanitarian needs can apply for permits with the Israeli authorities, where they then often face serious difficulties obtaining such permits.
Applicants are informed of having such permits one day - sometimes even one hour - prior to travel.
Therefore, it is practically impossible for people to apply for a 'travel permit' with the MoI in Gaza.
The only exceptions are persons who own big businesses and personnel of international organizations, who have longer-term permits from the Israeli authorities.
In case there are persons whose movement is restricted by court orders, Gaza security can establish an effective mechanism to monitor such cases; however, such a mechanism does not require general restrictions on all people.
Al Mezan stresses that the Gaza government security mechanisms violate the human and legal rights of Palestinians every time travel is banned on the grounds that a ‘travel permit’ was not obtained from the MoI, unless a court order bans an individual’s travel for criminal reasons in accordance with a full legal process.
Al Mezan is particularly concerned with movement restrictions on human rights defenders.
In this incident, the individuals work with a registered NGO in Gaza and were on their way to carry out official work on human rights.
Every person has the right to leave their country and return to it freely.
Therefore, the Gaza government must remove these unlawful restrictions and comply with the law immediately.