Israel’s arrest of Human Rights Watch’s researcher for Israel and the Occupied Territories sends the wrong signal on the eve of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell’s visit to the country, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch protested the arrest and called for the researcher’s immediate release [Sissons was released at approximately midnight local time today].
Researcher, Miranda Sissons, an Australian national, was detained while making a routine research visit to the offices of the International Solidarity Movement in Beit Sahour in the West Bank. A Palestinian and U.S. national were also arrested at the same time.
“The ability to independently monitor human rights is an essential part of any process to resolve this conflict,” said Hanny Megally, Middle East and North Africa director for Human Rights Watch. “This arrest sends the wrong message, particularly on the eve of Secretary Powell’s visit.”
Sissons has been charged with violating a military order banning foreigners from entering Area A of the Palestinian/Occupied Territories. She is being held at a facility in Hadera, pending deportation from the country.
Human Rights Watch this week released a report, The “Roadmap”: Repeating Oslo’s Human Rights Mistakes, criticizing the absence of basic human rights safeguards and monitoring mechanisms in the roadmap sponsored by the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union. The report contends that the defense of human rights is an essential foundation for any successful peace effort.
“Human rights monitors should be welcomed as contributors to the peace effort, not arrested,” said Megally.
Human Rights Watch said the organization’s researchers had conducted monitoring and research in these areas for years, with the full knowledge of the Israeli authorities. Human Rights Watch will appeal the deportation order.