Today, the Palestinian non-governmental organization Al-Haq and its General Director Mr. Shawan Jabarin (hereafter together: our client), have taken legal steps against the Center for Information and Documentation Israel (in Dutch: Centrum Informatie en Documentatie Israel) (hereafter: CIDI) for unlawful publications on its website and social media platforms. At issue are three news items, published by CIDI in May and June of this year, that were brought to the attention of our client in September. CIDI has been summoned to remove said news items and publish rectifications. Our client is also pressing defamation charges (in Dutch: laster en smaad).
The news items in question contain a relatively large number of factual inaccuracies about and serious accusations against Al-Haq, i.a. with specific reference to Jabarin. In short, what CIDI asserts in these news items is that Al-Haq is a terrorist organization, or in any case that Al-Haq is involved with terrorism, and that this is a fact that is generally accepted. Similar assertions are made by CIDI regarding Jabarin, who is i.a. accused of being (or having been) personally involved in terrorism, and of even playing a leading role in this. These assertions are not true. Our client is convinced that CIDI is doing this intentionally, knowing that this seriously damages the reputation of Al-Haq and/or Jabarin in the Netherlands and possibly abroad. It is to be noted that allegations of terrorism are of a particularly serious nature, in terms of criminal law they are comparable to crimes such as murder and manslaughter. Terrorism not only shocks the legal order but is also an assault against society. Publishing and spreading serious, unsubstantiated accusations and factual inaccuracies with the intention of putting another party in an unfavourable light is not only unlawful but also criminal.
By taking these legal steps our client is setting limits as to what it, as a civil society organization in a democratic society, can be expected to tolerate in terms of criticism and negative publications. The freedom that CIDI has to form and disseminate opinions about Al-Haq and/or Jabarin is limited by the right that they have to the protection of their good name. According to our client, with the many incorrect and harmful statements that CIDI makes in the new items in question, CIDI has repeatedly and widely overstepped that limit.
The extensive press release published by our client on the matter is available here.
Al-Haq is represented in this matter by lawyer Brechtje Vossenberg.
Update: 15 December 2022
In response to the liability notice sent to CIDI on 28 November 2022, CIDI removed the articles from its website and social media pages on 2 December 2022. Furthermore, a rectification was published on 9 December 2022. In doing so, CIDI has largely complied with the notice. As such, our client sees no reason for further civil law follow-up steps now. The criminal complaint that was also filed on 28 November 2022, is maintained.