Human Rights Lawyers React to Israeli Deportation Ruling on Human Rights Watch Israel and Palestine Director

April 17, 2019, New York – Today, in response to news that the deportation from Israel of Human Rights Watch Israel and Palestine director Omar Shakir has been upheld, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement:

Israel’s attempts to deport Omar Shakir are part of its broader efforts to prevent human rights defenders from witnessing and documenting human rights violations, as well as to stifle any opposition to those abuses. Israel similarly prohibited Center for Constitutional Rights Executive Director Vince Warren and Board Chair Katherine Franke from traveling to Israel and Palestine to meet with impacted communities and advocates, detaining the two lawyers for 14 hours and questioning them about their criticism of Israel. We note also the U.S.’s decision last week to prohibit Omar Barghouti, a prominent advocate for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), from traveling to the U.S. despite his possession of a valid visa.

It is troubling that among the activities that the court explicitly cited in its order to support Shakir’s deportation are his and the organization’s calls for companies to respect their international legal obligations. The increasing efforts to silence criticism of Israel’s human rights violations are in direct response to the growing criticism. Each time advocates for Palestinian rights are silenced or punished, by Israel or the U.S.—be it through deportation, censorship, laws prohibiting peaceful protest against Israel, prohibitions on organizing, or any of the other numerous attempts to impede advocacy for Palestinian human rights—it adds to the list of wrongs committed in service of protecting Israel’s ability to continue its human rights violations. We stand with Omar Shakir—and all human rights defenders—in his efforts to document and expose human rights abuses.

The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at


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April 17, 2019