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Dutch Foreign Minister Condemns Travel Ban Imposed by Israel on Al-Haq General Director

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Statement of Dutch Foreign Ministry, 11 March 2009:

Verhagen disappointed at travel ban on human rights defender Jabarin

Foreign minister Maxime Verhagen is very disappointed that the travel ban on the Palestinian human rights defender Sha’wan Jabarin has not been lifted.

‘Mr Jabarin has done a great deal to defend human rights and was due to travel to the Netherlands to receive the Geuzen Medal for his important work. It is disappointing, and disquieting, that he has been denied the opportunity to do so,’ said Mr Verhagen.

In 2006 Israel imposed a travel ban on Mr Jabarin. From the start, the Netherlands urged Israel to reverse the ban. In late 2008 it was announced that Mr Jabarin would be invited to the Netherlands in March 2009 to receive the Geuzen Medal, a prestigious human rights award presented by the Geuzen Resistance 1940-1945 Foundation. The Netherlands increased diplomatic pressure on Israel to issue Mr Jabarin with the exit papers he required.

Israel has always maintained that Mr Jabarin has links to a terrorist organisation. The Israeli Supreme Court upheld this view in its judgment earlier this week.

Verhagen was critical of the judgment. ‘The Netherlands considers Mr Jabarin to be innocent until proven guilty. The Israeli court’s judgment that he is, or was, a member of a terrorist organisation is based on evidence to which Mr Jabarin and his legal team have not had access. He has, therefore, not been able to conduct a proper defence. This is a failure of due process and means that the Netherlands is unable to ascertain whether Mr Jabarin actually has links to a terrorist organisation,’ Mr Verhagen said.