State to reduce remand periods for W. Bank Palestinians

Move comes in response this week to petitions filed by two human rights organizations with the High Court of Justice.

By DAN IZENBERG
January 12, 2011 03:31
2 minute read.

The government will dramatically ease up on military regulations determining the amount of time that a West Bank Palestinian may be held in custody without being brought before a judge, the state has announced.

The move came in response this week to petitions filed by two human rights organizations with the High Court of Justice.

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For example, security forces will only be able to hold Palestinians suspected of nonsecurity- related crimes in custody for 48 hours before a judge reviews their cases, instead of eight days as military law in the West Bank currently stipulates.

However, the state informed the court that it opposed the petitioners’ demand that the laws regarding this matter be identical for Jews and Palestinians living in the West Bank. Settlers are governed by Israeli law while Palestinians are subject to IDF military law.

The petitions were filed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and a Palestinian prisoners organization.

According to the state’s response, “It was recently decided, with the backing of the security forces, that the military order regarding security matters will be amended so that the periods of detention currently set will be significantly shortened.”

On the other hand, it continued, “given the nature of the investigations conducted in Judea and Samaria, which frequently differ from ‘regular’ police investigations in Israel, and given the conditions prevailing in Judea and Samaria, which often make it very difficult to investigate residents of the territory suspected of committing crimes, or gathering preliminary evidence against them, and make it difficult to convey the suspects from one place to another, we cannot set identical detention terms for Judea and Samaria and for Israel.

Doing so would seriously diminish the effectiveness of the law enforcement officials in the area, the security of the area and the security of the country.”

Other changes in the military law that the IDF intends to introduce include:

• Regarding suspects detained for security reasons, the initial period of detention without judicial review will be reduced from eight days to 96 hours, with the possibility of extending the time by another 96 hours. In Israel, detainees may be held for 24 hours without seeing a judge. In exceptional circumstances, the judge can extend the period by 96 hours.

• A judge will be able to extend a remand in custody for 20 days the first time, and 15 days for following extensions.

Until now, the detention period was up to 30 days at a time. In Israel, the judge may extend a remand by 15 days, or 20 days in special circumstances.

Attorney Smadar Ben- Natan, who represented the Palestinian prisoners organization, said the state had made the changes after bowing to pressure exerted by the High Court petitioners. In addition to the two current ones, two other petitions had been filed earlier and although they were rejected, the court had made it clear the army would have to change the law.


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