Dutch-based rights lawyer says she is target of threats
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A Dutch-based lawyer for a Palestinian human rights organization has been the target of a campaign of intimidation she believes is aimed at discouraging her cooperation with the International Criminal Court, she said Thursday.
Nada Kiswanson, who works for the Al-Haq organization, said the threats have been going on for months and have prompted Dutch authorities to launch an investigation and provide her with protection.
In a telephone interview, Kiswanson said she suspects Israel is behind the campaign because of the nature of the threats and her work, which includes cooperating with the ICC in its preliminary probe into possible crimes in the Palestinian territories.
Asked for comment on the claims, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said, “We do not react to such preposterous allegations.”
Kiswanson said she has received death threats and other intimidation over the phone and in other messages. On one occasion, a bunch of flowers with a threatening message attached was delivered to her home, where she lives with her Dutch husband and 2-year-old daughter.
Dutch prosecutors in The Hague confirmed in a written statement that they are investigating and providing protection, but gave no more detail.
“We are taking this very seriously,” prosecutors said, adding that their probe includes international requests for assistance.
Kiswanson said the threats appear to be linked to her work in The Hague, where she is Al-Haq’s representative to the ICC.
“It’s very clear that the reason I’m being threatened is because of the work that I do in Europe and particularly at the International Criminal Court,” she said.
Human rights group Amnesty International urged the Netherlands to do more to protect activists like Kiswanson, adding that one threat reached her via a hacked email account of an Amnesty staff member.
“The Dutch government must ensure, as a matter of urgency, that appropriate Human Rights Defenders protection mechanisms are put in place and available in The Netherlands,” Amnesty said in a statement.
Associated Press writer Daniella Cheslow in Jerusalem contributed.