Amnesty International on May 5 urged Israel to release all prisoners of conscience and administrative detainees or immediately try them under international fair trial standards. In a new report, “Starved of Justice: Palestinians detained without trial by Israel,” Amnesty states that Israel has been using a number of measures—such as Military Order 1651 of 2010, the Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law of 2002, and the Emergency Powers (Detention) Law of 1979—against Palestinian residents in the West Bank. Although the laws officially apply to everyone, AI reported that the laws are being used to detain only Palestinians. Additionally, AI found that most of the detainees were never informed of the evidence presented against them although they have the right to appeal and are entitled to legal counsel of their choice. With its report, AI concluded that injustice against detainees is still ongoing.
During past few months, numerous administrative detainees initiated or participated in several non-violent protests, such as a hunger strike, against their detention without charge or fair trial. However, after most of the strikes ended in May, AI discovered that Israel did not cease the heavily-criticized practice. Rather, it was reported that those who went on hunger strike were subject to ill-treatments and punishments:
Some hunger-striking detainees have reported that Israeli Prison Services (IPS) officials placed them in solitary confinement as punishment for their hunger strikes, on the basis that launching a hunger strike is against prison regulations. IPS officials have also delayed the hunger strikers’ access to medical examinations and treatment, apparently to further pressure them to end their strikes. Some hunger strikers have also reported physical assaults and verbal abuse by the IPS, while others have reported that IPS personnel forcibly administered treatment such as injections against their will. Since the beginning of the hunger strikes in late 2011, the IPS has limited hunger-striking detainees’ access to independent lawyers of their choice.
AI pointed out that Israel has ratified universal human rights treaties and that it must comply with these standards. With the report, AI mentioned several issues the Israeli government had to address immediately or in the near future such as ending the practice of administrative detention, investigating allegations of torture and ill-treatment, and allowing family visits to Palestinian detainees.
Israel has been continuously criticized for its treatment of Palestinian detainees. Last month UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Israel to try or release more than 1,000 prisoners who had been on hunger strike, to avoid risks to their health.
From Jurist, June 6. Used with permission.
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