Palestinian surgeon Ghassan Abu Sittah's Europe travel ban overturned

Palestinian surgeon Ghassan Abu Sittah's Europe travel ban overturned
A Palestinian legal advocacy group said that Germany’s Europe-wide travel ban imposed on famed doctor Ghassan Abu-Sittah was no longer in place.
2 min read
15 May, 2024
Ghassan Abu-Sittah was banned from entering Germany last April [Getty]

Germany has backtracked on a Europe-wide travel ban affecting renowned British-Palestinian surgeon and activist Ghassan Abu Sittah

In a social media post, pro-Palestine legal rights group the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) announced that the organisation, alongside lawyer Alexander Gorski and the European Legal Support Centre, have successfully challenged the travel restriction. 

The latest development comes after Abu Sittah was barred from entering Germany last month where he was due to speak at a pro-Palestine conference in the German capital. 

He was later slammed with a Schengen-wide travel ban for one year, which stopped him from visiting 29 countries across Europe.  

"This is a significant victory for freedom of speech and a significant turning point in challenging the chilling environment that many Palestinian human rights advocates have to operate in," the ICJP said in a statement on its website

As a result of his German-imposed Schengen-wide ban, Abu Sittah was prevented from entering France where he was due to speak on his experience working in Gaza to the French Senate, as well as the Netherlands. 

The ICJP regarded the German move as "the latest attempt at harassment of the war surgeon since his return to the United Kingdom." 

Dr. Abu Sittah gained prominence after sharing his account on working in Gaza's hospitals during the outbreak of Israel's war on the besieged enclave. 

He has since given evidence to the UK's Metropolitan Police War Crimes Unit in London, which is gathering proof for an ICC investigation into war crimes committed during the Gaza war. 

Human Rights Watch and other rights groups condemned the Schengen-wide entry ban on Abu Sittah and called on the UK government to take action. 

"This decision is a significant turning point in challenging the hostile environment that Palestinian human rights advocates like Professor Ghassan have faced in recent months," Abu Sittah’s lawyer Alexander Gorski was quoted as saying by ICJP. 

"But It is remarkable that it even got this far. Professor Ghassan worked tirelessly to help Palestinians in Gaza, in dreadful conditions, and yet he has faced such unfair treatment on his return."
He continued: "This decision means that Ghassan’s freedom of expression and freedom of movement are no longer under threat, and he can speak out about what he witnessed in Gaza. This victory cannot be overstated."

Other outspoken pro-Palestine voices such as Greek politician Yaris Varoufakis have similarly faced a travel ban from Germany.  

Varoufakis has since announced he is taking the German government to court over the ban.