New Israeli Law Flagrantly Violates the Rights of Palestinian Detainees
Press Release Reference: 37/2010 Date: 10/5/2010
Al Mezan Calls for the Abolition of this Law and to Ensure the Protection of Detainees’ Rights
The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) continued its systematic practice of torture and various forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment against Palestinian detainees. These practices flagrantly violate human rights principles and international humanitarian law (IHL).
According to Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, the Israeli government seeks to enact a bill that will worsen the conditions of Palestinian detainees. The new law imposes measures on the conditions of detention for Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, with the aim of making them similar to those of the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, according the Israeli government.
The bill, which is proposed by Member of Knesset Danny Danon from the Likud Party, will deprive Palestinian detainees of family visits and limit visits by Red Cross representatives to one every three months. The bill will deprive detainees of their right to continue their education in prison and prohibit detainees from watching TV, reading books and magazines, and the use of canteen services. Palestinian detainees will also be subject to unlimited periods of solitary confinement as a punishment procedure.
According to information available to Al Mezan, this bill will remain in place until the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is released. The bill will be submitted to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation. It is expected to become law after receiving the Knesset’s backing. The Israeli Prisons Administration expressed its fear that these measures would lead to instability and disobedience in the Israeli prisons.
There are about 7.000 Palestinian detainees detained in Israeli prisons and imprisonment centers. 725 of the 7000 are Gazans detainees. Since 2006, families in Gaza have not been able to visit their relatives in Israeli prisons. On Thursday 1 April 2010, Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons announced a strike until the end of April. This strike is being held to express solidarity with Gazan detainees who are deprived of their rights to family visits. Palestinian detainees are subject to various violations which can be summarized as follows:
- Palestinian detainees are held in places of detention which do not accord with international standards for the treatment of detainees. Places of detention do not provide protection from extreme weather conditions and large numbers of prisoners are held in cramped and confined spaces. The Prison Administration also deliberately dims lighting in detention facilities which damages the eyesight of prisoners over time. Essential maintenance is not carried out at these places of detention.
- Detainees are provided with poor quality meals, which are sometimes spoiled, and are insufficient in quantity, which leads to malnutrition. This violates international standards on the treatment of prisoners which state that prison authorities must provide detainees with food of nutritional value adequate for health and strength.
- The Prison Administration conducts arbitrary search campaigns during which prisoners are strip-searched. The detainees are also beaten, hit with batons, tear gassed, shot with bullets and placed in solitary confinement for long periods of time and their belongings are confiscated
- Detainees are not provided with adequate medical services which are limited to the provision of very basic health care for sick detainees. These services do not meet their urgent health needs.
- The Prison Administration differentiates between detainees held on security charges and other detainees. Torture and various forms of ill-treatment are practiced against detainees held on security charges in Israeli detention facilities. Security detainees are subject to long detention periods. Torturers may also escape liability.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights asserts the right of detainees to enjoy their rights particularly the right to fair trial and other economic, social and cultural rights and the right not to be subject to torture. Al Mezan emphasizes the right of detainees to communicate with people outside the prison, including their right to family visits.
Al Mezan expresses its strong condemnation of the systematic inhumane treatment of Palestinian detainees carried out by Israel, which starts from the detention stage, through to unfair trial standards and detention conditions. Al Mezan warns of the failure of the international community to condemn Israeli statements which express serious intent to prevent Palestinian detainees of their basic rights in violation of the UN Standards on the Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, the Convention against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Child’s Right Convention and other international conventions.
Therefore, Al Mezan calls on the international community to exert pressure on Israel to respect IHL and human rights standards, and especially the right of detainees to periodic prison visits, communicate with the outside world and to abide by the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, detention condition, protection against torture and ill-treatment. It also calls on the international community to take effective and urgent action to ensure the release of all Palestinian detainees who were detained because of the current conflict resulted from the Israeli occupation.