PSC welcomes today’s ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that the French Courts acted illegally in convicting activists for supporting Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns. The ruling confirms that supporting the Palestinian call for BDS is a civil right, as long as that support is motivated by criticism of a state and its policy. This represents a major blow to the campaign of lawfare being waged by Israel and it’s allies globally, that seeks to delegitimise, and where possible criminalise the BDS movement and wider advocacy for Palestinian rights.

The decision follows the victory obtained by PSC in the Supreme Court in April that overturned UK Government regulations that sought to prohibit Local Government Pension Scheme funds from divesting from companies complicit in Israel’s violations of international law.

We congratulate the work of French activists, in particular our colleagues in France Palestine Solidarity Association (AFPS) for their courage and persistence in fighting this case to its successful conclusion.

The ECHR decision has major implications for anti-BDS state repression in Europe. PSC calls upon the UK Government to take note of this judgment and to abandon its plans to bring in primary legislation that would prohibit public bodies from supporting BDS campaigns. Rather than seeking to limit freedom of expression, the UK government should be fulfilling its duties and responsibilities under international law to end its complicity Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.

At a moment when people across the UK and globally are rising in solidarity with black activists struggling against entrenched systems of discrimination and racist power, the UK Government should be standing on the side of justice and not supporting those seeking to entrench illegitimate and discriminatory structures of power. This means ending attempts to suppress action by other public bodies to challenge injustice and fulfilling its own responsibilities under international law.

The ECHR decision comes days after parliamentarians, trade unionists and other prominent figures from UK society called on the UK government to act to stop Israel’s plans to formally annex large swathes of the occupied Palestinian territory. This call comes in the aftermath of Palestinian civil society reminding states of their obligations to take meaningful action to oppose annexation including a ban on “arms trade and military-security cooperation with Israel” and on trade with Israel’s illegal settlements.

The ECHR decision is a major boost for the Palestinian people in their struggle for justice, as well as for all of us standing in solidarity with them. We will not be silenced in our support for the realisation of universal principles of freedom, justice and equality.

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