Human rights defender banned from leaving West Bank for belonging to political party 17Jun12 June 17, 2012

Alternative Information Centre  -  16 June 2012

Yousef Habache, the Public Relations Officer of the Union of Health Work Committees (UHWC), is prevented by Israel from leaving the West Bank for purportedly belonging to a political party. UHWC calls on activists, organizations to attend the court hearing in this matter on Wednesday 20 June at 11am in Jerusalem.

As the Union of Health Work Committees, we would like to inform you that we are gravely concerned about the situation of Mr. Yousef Habache, who works as the Public Relation Officer in our main office in Ramallah. Mr. Habache is married to a French woman who is now six months pregnant and Israel has prevented him for one year already from leaving the West Bank.

 On 20 June 2012 at 11:30 am, the lawyer of Addameer, Mr. Mahmoud Hassan, will defend the case of Habache in the Jerusalem court. Mr.Yousef Habache is not allowed to participate in this case, so we need the maximum number of people and organizations to come and join the trial. For any further information, please contact:  

Below are details about Habache’s personal and professional situation, as well as information about his human rights defender status.

Mr Yousef Habache, born in Ramallah, Palestine, on 29 May 1974, carries a Palestinian passport and lives in Ramallah (West Bank). For a year now he has been forbidden by the Israeli authorities to leave the West Bank territory. He is thus prevented from joining his French wife, who is 6 months pregnant with their first child. The baby is due in September.

On 1 June 2011, the couple entered into a civil pact of solidarity (PACS) which was registered by the magistrates’ court in Paris (11 arrondissement). When Habache’s wife travelled to the West Bank in May 2012, the couple got married before the Palestinian local authority. The transcription of the marriage in the French registry office is under way.

Mr. Habache has been issued a visa to enter France by the French Consulate in Jerusalem, yet Israel has refused to allow him to leave the West Bank five times in the past year. He is thus unable to join his wife who is living in Paris.

With the help of his lawyer, Habache has approached the Israeli authorities several times to know the reason for this refusal. It was only in May that the Israeli authorities told him that the administrative decision to forbid him to travel is based on his being a member of a political party. There have been no further details and no indication of the duration of the ban, and this decision is not based on a previous legal move.

It should be stated that Habache is in charge of public and international relations of the Union of Health Work Committee (UHWC) in Ramallah. This association works for the right to healthcare in the West Bank and abroad. He is also the association representative in the Euromed NGO platform, as well as the representative of Palestine to the International Forum of NGOs National Platforms (IFP) and the International Council of the World Social Forum. In this capacity, Habache must travel abroad. The current ban is thus a clear obstacle to his professional life.

In addition to these functions, Mr Habache is a member of Addameer board of directors, a member of PNGO (The Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network), and a Board Member of Saeryyet Ramallah – the First Ramallah Group (a cultural and sports association in Ramallah).

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