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European Court of Human Rights rules in favour of pro-Palestinian BDS activists Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff

European Court of Human Rights rules in favour of pro-Palestinian BDS activists

A man attends a BDS protest rally in southern France [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 11 June, 2020

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The top European human rights court has ruled that BDS activists backing the boycott of Israeli products in France were denied their right to free speech.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in favour of activists promoting the pro-Palestinian Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement. 

The top court ruled that BDS activists backing the boycott of Israeli products in France were denied their right to free speech.

The Court also ordered France to pay compensation to each of the activists.

In the case of Baldassi versus France, the court ruled that there had been a violation of Article 10, freedom of expression, in the European Convention of Human Rights.

"The cases concerned a complaint by activists in the Palestinian cause about their criminal conviction for incitement to economic discrimination, on account of their participation... as part of the campaign: 'BDS: Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions,'" a press release issued by the court on Thursday read.

Badassi and the ten other defendants were members of the Collectif Palestine 68, a local relay for the international BDS campaign in Mulhouse, France.

After the activists held protest actions in supermarkets in 2009 and 2010 calling for the boycott of Israeli products, they were summoned by the Colmar public prosecutor on the charge of incitement to discrimination.

The protest involved displaying items of Israeli origin and handing out leaflets. At another action, the activists also presented a petition for the market to stop selling Israeli products.

The activists were found guilty of incitement to discrimination and fined several thousand euros.

The group appealed the charges at the European Court of Human Rights in 2016. The Court has now found that their conviction "was not based on relevant and sufficient grounds".

Israeli and US officials have previously urged European Union leaders to take action against organisations supporting an international boycott of Israel.

The BDS movement is a campaign promoting various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.

Israel sees the movement as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism - a claim activists strongly deny.

It has recently been met with increasing resistance from pro-Israel factions, in the US and in Israel itself.

German lawmakers approved a resolution in May last year denouncing BDS as "anti-Israel" and describing its methods as anti-Semitic. 

Agencies contributed to this report.

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