Israel must either release or charge all Palestinians currently being held under administrative detention laws, Amnesty International stated in a report published late Tuesday.
“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," said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa. "It is a relic that should be put out to pasture.”
In its report entitled Starved of justice: Palestinians detained without trial by Israel, Amnesty charged Israel with committing "human rights violations," "torture," and "contravening [its] obligations under international... humanitarian law." The report demanded that Israel also investigate violations of the law, and added that Israel must compensate Palestinian victims.
The issue of Israel's use of administrative detention was thrust into the spotlight when more than 1,600 Palestinian prisoners declared a mass hunger strike to demand improvements in prison conditions and an end to certain practices, such as limiting visitation rights, administrative detention and solitary confinement. Israel had maintained that they were sometimes necessary for security reasons. The prisoners ended their strike on May 14 after reaching an agreement regarding some Israeli changes in policy.
“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 when it comes to detention without charge or trial,” Ann Harrison stated. “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.
Two Palestinians- Mahmoud Sarsak and Akram al-Rikhawy- remain committed to their hunger strikes, demanding that they be released.
The Amnesty International report charged that Israel has been subjecting Palestinian detainees to "violations such as the use of torture and other ill-treatment during interrogation." The organization also condemned Israel for banning family visits and forcing some prisoners into solitary confinement. The report called on Israel to stop suppressing the "legitimate and peaceful activities of activists in the Occupied Palestinian Territories."
Amensty expressed "concern" over "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" of Palestinian detainees. The report charged that Israel is in violation of international law, specifically the the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention against Torture, to which Israel is a party.
Towards the end of the report, Amnesty implored the international community to "Exercise universal jurisdiction to prosecute grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions." The principle of international jurisdiction allows states to bypass traditional jurisdiction of another state if they deem severe crimes have been committed.
In its yearly report on the state of the world's human rights published last month, Amnesty criticized Israel for violating the human rights of West Bank and Gaza Palestinians. "Israel maintained its blockade of Gaza, prolonging the humanitarian crisis there, and continued aggressively to expand settlements in the Palestinian West Bank territory it has occupied since 1967," the report posited.
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