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Hamas supporters lose rights claim
Human rights court says Germany could ban group with terrorist links
A German fund-raising group that supported the terrorist organisation Hamas has lost a challenge at the European Court of Human Rights.
The International Association for Humanitarian Aid (Internationale Humanitäre Hilfsorganisation) was banned by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior in 2010 and had its assets seized.
That decision, said the human rights court, was based on the “association’s long-term and substantial financial support of social societies (in particular, the Islamic Society) which were part of the terrorist organisation Hamas”.
As the court explained:
The ministry considered that the applicant association was indirectly contributing to the violence brought by Hamas into the relationship between the Palestinian and the Israeli people.
The ministry found it established, on the basis of Hamas’s original charter and its actions, that Hamas denied the right of the State of Israel to exist, called for its destruction in a proactively aggressive manner and engaged in terrorist attacks.
The political, military and social branches of Hamas were equal, intertwined parts of a single organisation; in particular, the social support for families of so-called “martyrs” served the purpose of encouraging the violent fight against Israel.
That decision was upheld by the German courts. In 2019, the former association lodged an application against Germany at the human rights court in Strasbourg, complaining that it had been denied its rights under article 11 of the European convention. This protects freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association.
Earlier this month, the human rights court dismissed the application. It said:
In the circumstances of the present case, where according to the national courts’ findings an association fundamentally identified itself with the aims of a terrorist organisation which it supported indirectly… and where a real risk of future circumvention had been established on the basis of similar conduct in the past, the outright proscription of the applicant association does not appear disproportionate.
There had been no violation of article 11, the court explained, because the interference with the association’s freedom of association was proportionate to the legitimate aims pursued and was thus necessary in a democratic society.
The judgment was approved by a chamber of seven judges last month and published on 10 October, three days after Hamas had massacred more than 1,400 people in Israel and kidnapped at least 220 others.