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Press Release


Israeli authorities deport PCHR staff member



Date: 23 June 2002

Ref: 79/2002



Authorities at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv today refused entry to PCHR International Legal Officer Victoria Metcalfe and forced her to return to the United Kingdom.


Ms. Metcalfe, a British citizen, arrived in Tel Aviv 05.30 today on a British Airways flight from London.  She was then interrogated, denied entry and placed in a holding cell until being placed on a flight to the UK at approximately 16.30.  Interventions by human rights lawyers and Knesset members failed to prevent her deportation.


Israeli authorities have in recent months escalated the practice of denying entry to foreign activists and journalists.  Activists have been sent back from Ben Gurion airport on numerous occasions, including two Belgian citizens seeking to visit the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) on 10 April and 38 French activists on 8 April.  Two days ago, over 200 Italian activists were also refused entry at the airport.


This is the first time that Ms. Metcalfe, who has traveled through Ben Gurion airport on a number of occasions, has been denied entry into Israel.  PCHR condemns the deportation of Ms. Metcalfe as a professional human rights activist working with an internationally recognised human rights organisation.  This deportation is part of an overall policy of obstructing internationals from working with Palestinian human rights organisation.  PCHR will continue to work through legal channels to ensure that Ms. Metcalfe will be able to return to the OPT to continue her work with PCHR.  Furthermore, PCHR calls upon relevant bodies, including governments and international human rights organisations, to demand that the Israeli government allow human rights defenders to carry out their work.