On March 29, 2017, NGO Monitor submitted a complaint to the President of the Human Rights Council and the High Commissioner for Human Rights against Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk for his promoting Manal Tamimi, an individual who has disseminated antisemitic imagery and violent rhetoric on social media. We requested that the report be withdrawn and that Mr. Lynk be censured for this incident.

See below for the complete complaint.

On April 18 we received a response from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights stating that our concerns were raised with the Special Rapporteur, and that, based on the information provided, all references to Manal Tamimi would be removed.

On May 7, NGO Monitor wrote a follow-up letter to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights inquiring as to why the original report was still accessible on the OHCHR website. We again requested that the report be removed and edited to exclude all references to Manal Tamimi.

On May 9, NGO Monitor received a letter stating that the report had been updated and was accessible on the OHCHR website.

This edited version contains no references to Manal Tamimi, and the original report has been removed. The report can now be accessed here (symbol number A/HRC/34/70).

Re: Complaint against Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk for Promotion of Individual Disseminating Antisemitic Imagery and Violent Rhetoric

The Amuta for NGO Responsibility is filing this complaint with the President of the Human Rights Council and the High Commissioner for Human Rights against Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories. Mr. Lynk has abused his status as Special Rapporteur to promote an individual responsible for disseminating virulently antisemitic imagery and violent and inciting rhetoric on social media. We ask that the report in which this occurred be immediately withdrawn, that Mr. Lynk be censured for this incident and issue an official apology, and that he be placed under supervision to prevent future abuse of his position.

Under Resolution 5/1 establishing special procedures, Special Rapporteurs are required to exhibit personal integrity, expertise, independence, impartiality, and objectivity.1 These criteria demand that Special Rapporteurs and other mandate holders must uphold the principles of universal human rights and are to refrain from the dissemination or aiding and abetting of expressions of discrimination, including antisemitism, promotion of violence, or incitement to violence.

Secretary-General António Guterres has reiterated the importance of guarding against antisemitism within UN frameworks: “After the horrors of the 20th century, there should be no room for intolerance in the 21st. I guarantee you that as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I will be in the frontline of the battle against anti-Semitism and all other forms of hatred.”2 Similarly, High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has called for “greater and more consistent leadership…to address the recent surge in discrimination, anti-Semitism, and violence against ethnic and religious minorities.”3

Special Rapporteur Lynk has failed on all these fronts.

In a report prepared for the 34th Session of the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/34/70), he characterized seven Palestinians as “human rights defenders.” The last individual listed was Manal Tamimi, described as “a leader of the protest movement in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh.” As documented below, Manal Tamimi cannot be considered a human rights defender by any definition.

Manal Tamimi has promoted terrorism, violence, and virulent antisemitism several times on her Twitter account. In August 2015, Tamimi tweeted, “I do hate Israel ,i (sic) wish a thrid Intefada (sic) coming soon and people rais (sic) up and kills all these zionist settlers everywhere.” In September 2015, on Yom Kippur (a fast day and the holiest day of the year in the Jewish calendar), Tamimi tweeted: “Vampire zionist celebrating their Kebore (sic) day by drinking Palestinian bloods (sic), yes our blood is pure & delicious but it will kill u at the end.” (See screenshots of tweets attached in “Appendix I” for details.)

In order to meet the UN’s definition of “Who is a defender,” two of the criteria are “accepting the universality of human rights” and “peaceful action.”4 An individual may not be considered a human rights defender if she denies “some human rights” but claims “to be a human rights defender because he or she is an advocate for others.”

As is clearly shown, Ms. Tamimi’s social media posts reflect extreme antisemitic imagery and rhetoric, incitement, as well as the promotion of violence. She is therefore barred from being characterized as a human rights defender. The inclusion of Ms. Tamimi by Mr. Lynk in his report suggests he did not conduct independent research and verification, but rather blindly repeated claims made by outside organizations.5 Alternatively and more troublingly, Mr. Lynk deliberately ignored Ms. Tamimi’s record. Either case indicates Mr. Lynk is unable to carry out his duties as Rapporteur, and without remedial measures should not be allowed to remain in this position.

In light of the severity of this incident, we respectfully request the President of the HRC and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to:

  1. Immediately withdraw Mr. Lynk’s report.
  2. Begin an open and independent investigation as to how this incident occurred and whether there are other similar issues in his report.
  3. Officially censure Mr. Lynk and demand that he issue an official apology.
  4. Place Mr. Lynk under close supervision to prevent further abuse.

Respectfully submitted,

Anne Herzberg UN Liaison, Amuta for NGO Responsibility

cc:  H.E. António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General
H.E. Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the United Nations
H.E. Aviva Raz Shechter, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva
H.E. Julian Braithwaite, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, UK Mission to the UN and Other International Organisations, Geneva
H.E. Peter M. Sørensen, Head of Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations Office and other International Organisations in Geneva

Appendix I: Selection of Manal Tamimi’s Antisemitic and Violent Threats