UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Friday condemned Israel for not renewing the work permit of Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine director of Human Rights Watch, and forcing him to leave.
High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson Marta Hurtado said at a UN briefing that [Human Rights Watch’s Jerusalem-based Director Omar] Shakir was forced to leave on Nov. 25 after Israel’s Supreme Court upheld the legality of an Israeli government decision to not renew his visa.
“The high commissioner deeply regrets this decision, which both the UN Human Rights Office and a group of three UN Special Rapporteurs had urged the government to reverse in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling,” said Hurtado.
Bachelet met Shakir after he left Israel, she said.
Hurtado said the expulsion of Shakir “casts a shadow” over Israel’s commitments to freedom of expression and freedom of association, as well as over the ability of human rights defenders and organizations to carry out their “important work”.
Israeli authorities had accused Shakir of supporting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which Israel has criminalized.
For his part, Shakir had called the decision politically driven and aimed to silence human rights groups working in Israel.
The UN Special Rapporteurs pointed out that the freedoms of expression and association protect the expression of support for, or opposition to, movements such as the BDS, which do not incite discrimination, violence or hostility.
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