Travel ban overturned: Major victory for Professor Ghassan Abu Sittah following successful ICJP and ELSC legal challenge against German authorities

London, 14th May 2024- Professor Ghassan Abu Sittah has won a major victory over German authorities after a successful legal challenge to overturn his Schengen-area travel ban. The successful legal challenge was led by lawyer Alexander Gorski, with support from lawyers from the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) and European Legal Support Centre (ELSC) on Professor Abu Sittah’s behalf.

Over the past few weeks, Professor Ghassan Abu Sittah has attempted to travel abroad to speak about the Israeli war crimes he witnessed during the 43 days that he worked as a war surgeon in Gaza, during Israel’s genocide against Palestinians. Despite attempting to speak about his experience, he was prevented from entering Germany, France and the Netherlands, due to German authorities implementing a Schengen-area travel ban on Professor Ghassan. This demonstrated a deprivation of his freedom of expression and freedom to travel.

Most recently, he was prevented from entering the Netherlands, where he was due to speak on the 17th May 2024 to civil society organisations and Dutch MPs at the University of Amsterdam. These efforts by German authorities constitute a serious breach of freedom of movement & expression in Europe and now a judge has ruled that the travel ban should be overturned. 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.  

This is the latest attempt at harassment of the war surgeon since his return to the United Kingdom. Despite hostile media and smear tactics, Ghassan was elected as Rector of Glasgow University, his alma mater, by a landslide, winning 80% of the vote. 

Now, with the ban overturned, it is expected that Professor Ghassan should be able to travel freely around the Schengen area once again.

Lawyer Alexander Gorski said:

“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. 

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.

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.”


Notes to Editors: 

  1. The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians is an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians and aim to protect their rights through the law.
  2. For press inquiries for ELSC, please contact https://elsc.support/contact and for press inquiries for ICJP, please contact [email protected].