Thursday, March 26, 2009

ADDAMEER Launches Campaign to Stop Administrative Detention

posted on Sumoud

Ramallah, 26/03/2009 - Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association launches today a global campaign to stop the Israeli use of administrative detention, a procedure under which Palestinian detainees can be indefinitely held without charges or trial. The primary objective of the campaign is to compel Israel to end this practice unconditionally and stop its policy of arbitrary arrests in the occupied Palestinian territory. Addameer calls upon Israel to immediately release all administrative detainees and abide by internationally recognized standards of fair trial.

?All detainees should be charged with a recognizable offence, tried in a suitable court of law in accordance with internationally accepted standards for fair trial. In the lack of sufficient evidence against them, they should be immediately released? - said Adv Sahar Francis, Addameer Association?s General Director. ?The problem is that I, as a lawyer, cannot defend my clients as their detention is based on secret information, which neither of us is allowed to see. Administrative detention cannot be continuously used as a substitute for prosecution.?

There are currently approximately 540 Palestinian administrative detainees, including 3 children under the age of 18 and 2 women held in Israel without charges or trial. Over the last 8 years following the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2000, there has been an average of more than 800 administrative detainees a year. Some have been kept in administrative detention for years, like in the case of recently released Adnan Hamarsheh who spent a total of nearly 6 years in prison from 28/12/2003 until 12/2/2009 or Khalid Kaaba who was arrested on 10 January 2005 and is still detained to this date. The vast majority of administrative detainees are held in old, threadbare tents exposing them to extreme weather conditions, in three detention centers, neither of which meets international minimum standards ? Keztiot in the Negev, Megiddo in the north of Israel and Ofer in the central West Bank. Although located within the occupied Palestinian territory, Ofer is equally inaccessible to families of detainees due to the path of Israel?s Separation Wall. Although no charges are presented against them, administrative detainees often suffer from humiliating and degrading treatment when arrested and interrogated. Addameer calls upon Israel to respect the Fourth Geneva Convention, in particular Article 84, which clearly highlights the difference between administrative detainees who ?have not been tried or convicted of any offence? which must be kept separately from ?persons detained for any other reason?. Israel must also ensure that detention conditions of administrative detainees meet international standards. Similarly, their lawful rights to regular family visits and adequate legal defence must be implemented.

Administrative detainees are not informed of the precise reasons for their arrest, even after their release. They can be held in such a state of suspension from a period of 1 to six months, based on the issuance of an administrative detention order against them, which can be renewed indefinitely by the military judge. Although they have the right to a review of the military order before a military judge and to appeal his decision, the process can neither be deemed as fair or independent. ?The review is a mockery of legal safeguards? ? said Adv Sahar Francis. ?The detainee is not able to confront and check basic facts, including confessions about his or her case, as all information presented to the Court is classified. In vast majority of the cases, administrative detention orders end up being confirmed?.

Addameer firmly insists that the judicial review of administrative detention must meet minimum international standards for due process. It must also be conducted regardless of whether the detainee initiates an appeal. ?Above all, Addameer believes that Israel must release administrative detainees as soon as the reason for detention ceases to exist. Through the campaign, we are determined to challenge the Military Court?s decisions and demonstrate their unfounded nature by compiling information on all current administrative detainees and the details of their legal cases? ? said Abdel Latif Ghaith, Addameer?s Chairman of the Board of Directors. ?The time has come for the international community to assume its role and hold Israel to account under international law as well as under its contractual agreements with the European Union. Throughout the years, we have seen enough of Israel?s human rights violations against the Palestinian people and enough of the international community?s inaction. We are handing today all international actors enough detailed and reliable information to finally act and put pressure on Israel to end its practice of administrative detention and arbitrary arrests. The international community?s lack of effective response to date has forced us to seriously question its commitment to fundamental human rights. Now is the time to prove that human rights principles and values are backed with action?.

For media interviews on the campaign, please contact:
Phone: +972 (0)2 2960 446 / 297 0136