Monday, January 30, 2017

Swiss government denies requests for public information about funding of framework distributing 56% of its budget to BDS advocacies

Via European Jewish Press:
The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), the country’s foreign ministry, has denied requests from a Swiss resident and from NGO Monitor research institute to provide public information about Swiss government funding to the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (the IHL Secretariat), a Ramallah-based framework that distributes 56% of its budget to NGOs that advocate for BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) campaigns against Israel. 
The FDFA claimed in his response that disclosure of the documents "might harm Swiss interests regarding foreign policy and international relations." 
NGO Monitor has since submitted an appeal to the FDFA, citing the Swiss Federal Act on Freedom of Information in the Administration (Freedom of Information Act, FoIA). 
The IHL Secretariat is an intermediary framework that distributes funds to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including to many active in BDS campaigns, and is managed by the Institute of Law at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah and the NIRAS consulting firm in Sweden. IHL is a funding scheme of the Swiss, Danish, Swedish and Dutch governments. 
According to the contract between the Swiss Confederation (represented by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs acting through the Swiss Cooperation Gaza & West Bank office) and NIRAS, the Swiss contribution to the IHL Secretariat amounts to CHF 3 million between December 12, 2013 and September 30, 2017. (...)
According to NGO Monitor, NGOs receiving "core-funding" from the Secretariat include BADIL, Al-Haq, Addameer, and MIFTAH, which are at the forefront of BDS and lawfare campaigns. 
"The central question is why are audits of government financial contributions to a 'human rights' framework subject to such secrecy?" continued Sacks ( Shaun Sacks, Senior Researcher at NGO Monitor's Europe Desk). 
"Those most affected by the funding, including Israelis, Palestinians, and Swiss taxpayers should be able to see how these crucial decisions are made, and how this money is being spent," he said.
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