Palestinian Authority accused of blocking legal rights group representing PA detainees

Human Rights Watch criticizes the Palestinian Authority for obstructing civil rights after it denied the registration of a lawyers association.

Lawyers for Justice — which represents Palestinians detained by the PA — says the renewal of its registration has been denied after it was accused of accepting foreign funding in violation of its legal status.

The legal group was also accused by a PA official of “nonprofit activities” when its renewal was blocked in March, HRW says.

Lawyers for Justice says accepting foreign funding is not in violation of PA law.

“So long as the PA blocks groups from carrying out work focused on their abuses, their calls to safeguard Palestinian civil society and protect Palestinian rights will continue to ring hollow,” Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch says.

Without official registration, it could lose access to bank accounts, have its offices closed, and its staff could face arrest, the group’s head Mohannad Karaje tells Human Rights Watch.

The move to muzzle Lawyers for Justice reflects a larger trend of the PA “shrinking the space for civil society organizations and further empowering its security services,” Karaje says.

The PA does not respond to a request for comment from AFP.

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