The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) a non-governmental organization founded in 1946 with consultative status with ECOSOC, opposes in the strongest terms the German government’s imposition of “political ban” on German resident Mr. Khaled Barakat, a Palestinian activist and writer.   This ban was imposed on June 22, 2019.

IADL has been informed that the stated bases for the political ban are Mr. Barakat’s opinions regarding Palestine and his open support for Palestinian self-determination. IADL has no illusion regarding the source of this ban.  It reflects a disturbing trend by the State of Israel to pressure governments such as Germany to isolate and quiet critics of Israel by equating criticism of the State of Israel or its government with anti-Semitism.  IADL fundamentally rejects this equivalency and notes that many of the people who have spoken out against Israeli violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, and who generally oppose Zionism are members of the Jewish community.   Advocating against oppression of Palestinians or for Palestinian self-determination is neither anti-Semitic nor advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred.

IADL views this “political ban” as an impermissible and illegal restriction on the rights of all persons to freedom of opinion and expression, in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which guarantees everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference; the right to freedom of expression which includes the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.   IADL notes that to be permissible restrictions placed on these rights must be justified by a finding they are “necessary” to protect national security, public ordre public health or morals. (General Comment 10 paragraph 4).    The ICCPR also in Article 2 prevents discrimination on many bases including on the bases of political or other opinion, or national or social origin.

IADL is aware that Germany has ratified the ICCPR but placed reservations on its ratification which conditioned its ratification on its right to interpret ICCPR Article 19 and Article 2 consistent with Article 16 of the European Convention on Human Rights which exempts aliens from provisions of Article 10 and 14. Article 10 and 14 correspond to ICCPR Articles 19 and 2. This reservation ostensibly allows Germany to restrict the freedom of expression of aliens and to discriminate against them on the basis of their political or other opinion or national or social origin.

IADL rejects these reservations as being contrary to the purposes and objects of Articles 2 and 19 of the ICCPR, and states affirmatively that such reservations destroy the right of people not to be discriminated against on the basis of their national or social origin.  The Human Rights Committee which interprets the ICCPR has also confirmed that such reservations would not permitted by Article 19(3) of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.  (General Comment 24 paragraph 6 of the Human Rights Committee.)

IADL further states that political bans were widely used in South Africa during the Apartheid era to stifle opposition to Apartheid.  They were widely imposed and were part of the actions universally condemned by the United Nations.    IADL opposed the use of such bans to restrict freedom of thought, expression and conscience by the anti-Apartheid activists.    At that time South Africa was not a democracy as it prevented its African majority population from participating in any elections.    The use of these political bans were desperate attempts by the South African government to stave off the day when it would have to change to a democratic state. Germany is a democratic state already.  There is no political necessity for aliens to suffer restrictions on their freedoms of speech, expression or conscience.

Therefore, IADL publicly calls upon German officials to lift the political ban on Mr. Barakat.