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Alan Johnston’s Release and the Rule of Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Thursday, 05 July 2007 12:48 REF.: 22.2007E
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Al-Haq joins Palestinian civil society in welcoming the recent release of BBC journalist, Alan Johnston, after being held captive for 114 days in Gaza City. It is also fitting at this time to pay tribute to those who actively and tirelessly campaigned for Mr. Johnston’s release.

Kidnapping and abduction constitute clear violations of the applicable law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In light of the current climate of political instability in the OPT, it is of paramount importance that all parties demonstrate unflinching commitment to the rule of law.

Those that perpetrate kidnappings, whether of foreign nationals or Palestinians, must be held to account through impartial law enforcement and judicial procedures. This requires not only the arrest of these individuals, but also their presentation before a court of law capable of ensuring due process guarantees and the proper administration of justice according to international standards. If found guilty of an offence, the individuals responsible should be sentenced and imprisoned according to the applicable law.

While Mr. Johnston’s release thankfully marks the end of his personal ordeal, the wider questions raised by his kidnapping, namely respect for the rule of law and guarantees of individual freedom and security in the OPT, remain to be answered. To ignore these questions will only further encourage kidnappings and other violations of the individual freedoms of foreign nationals and Palestinians alike.

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