16 January 2018

Update concerning detention of Munther Amira 15th January 2018

On behalf of more than 7500 social workers from all over the world who have signed the petition calling for the immediate release of Munther Amira, the IFSW Human Rights Commissioner Nigel Hall and IFSW Main Representative to the United Nations in Geneva Priska Fleischlin, have sent letters to relevant agencies at the United Nations. The letters request these agencies to take forward our concerns regarding our social work colleague and urge them to use their respected offices to support this global movement of social workers trying to secure Munther’s release.

These agencies are:

  • UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory, Mr. S. Michael Lynk
  • UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mr. Michel Forst
  • UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

The letter to these agencies is reproduced below:

Dear …….

Re: Concerns about detention of Palestinian Social Worker

We would be very pleased if you could take forward our concerns regarding one of our social work colleagues on behalf of the Human Rights Commission of the International Federation of Social Workers.

The IFSW Human Rights Commission calls for the immediate release of Munther Amira, a Palestinian Social Worker who was arrested on the 27thDecember while peacefully protesting to defend the rights of children who had been detained by the Israeli authorities. Mr. Amira has previously served as the Secretary-General of the Palestinian Union of Social Workers & Psychologists (PUSWP).

Mr. Amira was standing up for basic social work principles and was conducting his protest in a peaceful and non-violent way and should not have been arrested for his basic democratic right to free speech and to campaign for human rights concerns.

The Israeli military court on 9th January has now extended his detention until Tuesday 16th January, after the military prosecution halted the court’s decision to release him. A member of Mr Amira’s defence committee has noted that the Israeli military prosecution is preparing a list of further indictments against him.

The IFSW Human Rights Commission upholds that social workers are human rights defenders who stand up for peace, human rights and social justice. We support Mr. Amira’s commitment to upholding the ethical principles of our profession and demand his immediate release.

As part of our campaign for Mr. Amira’s release there is a currently circulating petition calling his release which will be delivered to the Prime Minister of Israel Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Minister of Public Security Mr. Gilad Erdan, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Mr. Michel Forst, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory Mr. S. Michael Lynk. This petition has now garnered more than 7500 signatures.

The role of social work in situations of conflict is focused on building peace and reconciliation. Social workers are involved in mediation and conciliation, and work to build sustainable and inclusive communities and this is what our colleague was attempting to do. We urge you to use your respected office to support this global movement of social workers trying to secure Mr Amira’s release.

If you wish to discuss this further it may be possible for a meeting to be arranged with a member of our Geneva team who represents IFSW at the United Nations.

Yours sincerely

Nigel Hall, IFSW Human Rights Commissioner

Priska Fleischlin, IFSW Main Representative, United Nations Geneva