Family of killed Palestinian activist Nizar Banat turn to international court for justice after suspects released

Family of killed Palestinian activist Nizar Banat turn to international court for justice after suspects released
Nizar Banat was a vocal opponent of corruption within the Palestinian Authority.
3 min read
West Bank
19 May, 2022
Fourteen Palestinian security members are accused are been charged of killing Nizar Banat in Palestinian military courts [Qassam Muaddi/TNA]

The family of Palestinian activist Nizar Banat, beaten to death during his detention by Palestinian security forces, announced in Ramallah on Wednesday they are no longer pursuing a case through the Palestinian judiciary and instead turning to international courts for justice.

The family's spokesperson and Nizar Banat's brother, Ghassan Banat, told The New Arab that they no longer have faith in the Palestinian court system after learning the 14 suspects linked to the case were released from prison without a judicial order.

Banat was one of the most well-known critics of corruption within the Palestinian Authority and was killed during his arrest by security forces on 24 June 2021. A Palestinian legal medical report confirmed that Banat was beaten to death.

"We received proof that the Palestinian security members accused of Nizar's killing spent Eid Al-Fitr holidays at home with their families, despite the fact that they are detained for a serious criminal case," Banat pointed out.

"This does not mean that we are dropping the case, it means we are no longer attending the court hearings, and we are actively studying options to raise a case in international courts as Nizar's case is one of fundamental human rights, such as the right to dissidence and freedom of expression."

In December, a national commission was formed to find justice for Nizar Banat's death, composed of civil society figures and a member of the activist's family.

The commission's lawyer explained to Palestinian media on Wednesday that Banat's case is currently open in the Palestinian military judiciary, as the 14 suspects are members of security forces.

"We, as a legal team for the national commission for justice for Nizar Banat, are now preparing a case before the Palestinian civil judiciary," he said.

Omar Assaf, a member of Nizar Banat's national commission, told The New Arab that the current case in the military court was not raised by the family or commission.

"It was raised by the public prosecution and it seeks the public's right to justice, and thus, the case will remain open even if the family stops attending the hearings," he added.

"We, as a national commission, support Banat's family in their choice to seek justice in international courts and will support their efforts."

Nizar Banat was a renowned Palestinian political activist and commentator, and a well-known critic of the Palestinian Authority.

Banat's death sparked a wave of protests in the West Bank, which Palestinian security forces met with violence.

The security response and Banat's death were met with international criticism.