13 01. 2021
PCHR Calls for Immediate Release of Lawyer Detained Pending Investigation in Violation of Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression
Date: 13 January 2021
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) follows with deep concern the detention of a lawyer pending investigation after publishing his opinion on a client’s case. PCHR calls upon the Public Prosecution to release him immediately in respect for the freedom of opinion and expression and the law.
According to PCHR’s follow-up, at approximately 11:00 on Tuesday, 12 January 2021, the Public Prosecution in Gaza detained lawyer Omayah Hani Mohammed al-Kahlout (31), from Gaza City, for 48 hours pending investigation after he posted on his Facebook account information about the measures taken in a client’s case against the Ministry of Agriculture. According to the lawyer, the Ministry has not implemented the Administrative Court’s decision issued on 10 January 2021 to freeze its decision to destroy 216,000 rotten eggs of meat chicken. The Ministry filed a complaint against him before the Public Prosecution in Gaza for the post.
According to information obtained by PCHR, al-Kahlout headed to the Public Prosecution office in Gaza along with 2 other lawyers to learn the details of the complaint filed against him. Upon his arrival, he was taken to Institutions’ Crimes Department at the Prosecution; without giving him the opportunity to speak or defend himself, al-Kahlout was informed of the decision to detain him for 48 hours and was referred to the Beit Lahia Police Station in Northern Gaza Strip. Al-Kahlout remains in custody to this moment.
On 13 January 2021, PCHR’s lawyer, as al-Kahlout’s legal representative, went to the Beit Lahia Police Station to visit al-Kahlout in order to verify the latter’s health and legal status. However, our lawyer was denied the visit even after showing the power of attorney, and he was told that there are instructions from the Station’s Director to deny visits to al-Kahlout because he is still being interrogated and will be referred tomorrow to the Public Prosecution to continue the investigation.
PCHR hereby condemns the arrest of al-Kahlout, and:
- Calls for the urgent and immediate release of Lawyer Omayah al-Kahlout in respect for the Regular Lawyers’ Law No. 3 Of 1999; and calls for allowing PCHR’s lawyer to visit him;
- Calls upon the Public Prosecution to respect the freedom of expression and opinion guaranteed by the 2003 Palestinian Basic Law and the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that is obligatory to the State of Palestine; and
- Reiterates its full support for lawyers and respect for their prestige as they are an integral pillar of the judicial system.