Israeli Lawmakers have been urged by three United Nations Human rights experts not to approve a bill that has been of grave concern to Non Governmental organizations.

The experts are of the opinion that the legislation would chill the speech of human rights NGOs by subjecting them to harsh penalties for violations and delegitimising them publicly.

Though the stated aim of the legislation is to increase “transparency” by requiring NGOs that receive more than half of their funding from foreign government entities to disclose certain information, the legislation has the evident intent of targeting human rights and civil rights organizations, which receive a majority of their funding from foreign government entities, while leaving unaffected other organizations that nonetheless receive a substantial amount of foreign funding from individuals says one of the United Nations experts, David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression.

“By differentiating between donations from foreign political bodies and donations from other sources, the proposed legislation will likely lead some NGOs to be perceived as agents of foreign entities, regardless of how autonomously they operate,” warned Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the freedom of association and peaceful assembly.

“The discriminatory impact of new requirements on NGOs would result in public shaming of certain organizations, eroding the democratic character of Israeli civil society,” added Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of human rights defenders.

The experts urged members of the Knesset to withdraw the proposed legislation and uphold its international obligation to safeguard the broad and expansive right to freedom of expression guaranteed to everyone under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Author: Ope Adedeji