New Amnesty report reveals Israel ignoring deal on administrative detention
Israel must release all Palestinians held under long-standing administrative detention laws or charge and try them promptly and fairly, Amnesty International said today in a new report.
Starved of justice: Palestinians detained without trial by Israel documents human rights violations associated with administrative detention. This system permits detention without charge or trial on indefinitely renewable military orders. The report also names dozens of Palestinians whose detentions have been renewed since a 14 May deal to end a mass hunger strike of Palestinian detainees.
Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said: “Israel must stop using administrative detention to suppress the legitimate and peaceful work of activists in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
“All prisoners of conscience, held solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly should be released immediately.”
Administrative detainees – like many other Palestinian prisoners – have suffered torture and other ill-treatment during interrogation, as well as during their detention, sometimes as punishment for hunger strikes or other protests.
In addition, administrative detainees and their families must live with the uncertainty of not knowing how long they will be deprived of their liberty and the injustice of not knowing exactly why they are being detained.
As of the end of April there were at least 308 Palestinian administrative detainees, among them 24 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), including its Speaker, Aziz Dweik. Human rights defenders such as Walid Hanatsheh (pictured above) and at least four journalists, in addition to university students and academic staff, were also among those behind bars.
The prolonged hunger strikes of administrative detainees such as Khader Adnan and Hana Shalabi put the issue of administrative detention under the international spotlight earlier this year.
Mass hunger strike
Their non-violent protest was followed by a mass hunger strike which began on 17 April 2012 and included an estimated 2,000 other Palestinians in Israeli prisons, many of whom are either serving prison sentences or awaiting trial.
Following a deal brokered by Egypt, the mass hunger strike was suspended on 14 May 2012. However, Palestinian footballer Mahmoud al-Sarsak from Gaza is now more than 70 days into his hunger strike, which began in March.
His protest is against his continuing detention without charge or trial for almost three years. His life is currently in grave danger.
Under the 14 May deal, Israel agreed to end solitary confinement for 19 prisoners – held in isolation for up to 10 years – and lift a ban on family visits for prisoners from the Gaza Strip, but reports indicate the authorities are not living up to their side of the agreement.
Deal not honoured
Colm O’Gorman continued: “Despite many media reports suggesting that the Israeli authorities had agreed as part of the deal to release administrative detainees at the end of their current orders ‘unless significant new information was received’, our information is that it is business as usual.
“We believe that Israel has renewed at least 30 administrative detention orders and issued at least three new ones since this deal was struck, and family visits for Gazan prisoners have still not started.
“The authorities in Israel have a duty to protect everyone in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. But they must do so in a manner that respects human rights.
“Israel has used its system of administrative detention – intended as an exceptional measure against people posing an extreme and imminent danger to security – to trample on the human rights of detainees for decades. It is a relic that should be put out to pasture.”