ELSC Achievements in 2021

Published on Tue Feb 01 2022 - modified on Wed Feb 02 2022

We are pleased to share our achievements last year in support of the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and human rights.

In 2021, repression against Palestinian rights advocates has increased in Europe, particularly after Israel’s latest attack on Gaza and on Palestinian families opposing forced displacement in Jerusalem and the important mobilisation from civil society that followed, all over the world. Yet, the ELSC provided legal support or assistance in 80 cases of repressive attacks on advocates for Palestinian rights in the UK, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Belgium and France. This is twice the number of cases that we were able to support last year! We have managed to assist over 140 Palestinian rights advocates including Palestinian and European CSOs, activist groups, students, academics, artist and cultural institutions. In the vast majority of the cases we supported, our action was successful (the other cases are still pending). Among them, we share with you one success story!

An example of a successful case empowering young activists’ voices

“Progetto Palestina” is a student activists group at the University of Torino, which advocate for justice for Palestinians and calls for boycotts of Israeli apartheid, in line with international human rights standards. The group was targeted by a lawyer of pro-Israel organisation, which accused the members of the group of inciting to hatred against Jewish people. On this basis, the lawyer requested the University to disclose the personal data of the students with the clear aim to file a criminal complaint against them.

The ELSC immediately and successfully intervened, alerting the university that allowing access to the personal data of the students would violate their right to privacy. The University fully accepted our request denying access to the students’ data. Today, Progetto Palestina keeps advocating for Palestinian rights on campus. The episode fuelled them with a “strong determination”. They told the ELSC:

“ It gave us new energy and we started working to transform this attack into an opportunity. The ELSC backed us, and allowed us to focus on our activities while they took care of the legal aspects of the issue. We started a communication campaign on and off campus, which culminated in a big demonstration on Nakba Day, when more than 5.000 people marched in the streets of Turin, demanding the end of the apartheid regime and a free Palestine.”

Demonstration in the streets of Turin on Nakba day, May 2021

Developing public outreach

With our team growing, we also developed more public outreach and advocacy that are essential to support some cases, in addition to the legal work.

We published our first monitoring report on “chilling” Palestinian rights advocacy in the Netherlands together with 2 resource papers. This included a guide on the 10 situations in which the ELSC could defend your right to advocate for Palestinian rights.

We released 10 statements and joint letters, such as a letter to the EU Commission against the instrumentalisation of the IHRA definition of antisemitism, co-signed with 10 organisations. We also filed our first submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

Finally, we intervened in 2 workshops and 3 webinars, including one that we organised with Al Haq, PAX, SOMO, The Rights Forum on challenging the repression of Palestinian rights advocacy, and a webinar organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK on resisting the IHRA definition.

Expanding the ELSC in Europe

With the support extended by our donors, we have managed to develop our expertise and our legal network, and expand to better defend and empower those who are advocating for fundamental rights and justice for Palestinian people. 

In the upcoming year, we have ambitious plans to increase the ELSC’s capacity for effective legal support even further, especially in the UK and Germany, where the attempts to criminalise and suppress academic freedom and campaigning for Palestinian rights are particularly severe.

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