The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a joint program of FIDH and OMCT) welcomes the decision of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concerning the cases of Matan Kaminer, Adam Maor, Noam Bahat and Jonathan Ben Artzi submitted by the Observatory last May 2003.
The U.N. Working Group stated, in its final opinion 24/2003 (Israel) that although at present time the rejection by a state of the right to conscientious objection cannot be considered incompatible with international law, the repeated penalties imposed on Matan Kaminer, Adam Maor, Noam Bahat and Jonathan Ben Artzi were arbitrary.
Referring to the fact that the four above mentioned individuals have served more than one disciplinary measure for refusing to obey military orders, the U.N. Working Group stated that “the repeated penalties for the disobedience to serve in the military are not compatible with the principle of non bis in idem, as born out by article 14-7 of the ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), which states that no one shall be liable to be tried or punished again for an offence for which he has already been finally convicted or acquitted.”
The UN Working Group concluded that “the second and subsequent deprivations of liberty of Matan Kaminer, Adam Maor, Noam Bahat and Jonathan Ben Artzi are contrary to article 14.7 of the ICCPR. The non-observance of the international norms relating to a fair trial, is of such gravity as to confer on the deprivation of liberty an arbitrary nature, falling under category III of the principles applicable in the consideration of the cases submitted to the Working Group.”
On November 12, 2003, Jonathan Ben Artzi was recognized as being a pacifist by the Military Court in Jaffa and is now waiting for the military Committee of Conscience to reconvene in order to decide upon his exemption. Further, on January 4, 2004, the military court in Jaffa sentenced Matan Kaminer, Adam Maor, Noam Bahat, together with Haggaï Matar and Shimri Tzameret to 1 more year in prison for the same offence.
The Observatory calls on Israeli authorities to adjust to the opinion of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and to take the necessary measures to remedy the situation of the conscientious objectors currently arbitrarily detained.
The Observatory urges Israeli authorities to proceed to the immediate and unconditional release of Matan Kaminer, Adam Maor, Noam Bahat, together with Haggaï Matar and Shimri Tzameret and to pronounce the definitive exemption of Jonathan Ben Artzi.