Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Entima al-Lahham released from administrative detention

[Ramallah, 9 September 2009] – On 9 September 2009, Entima al-Lahham (UA 4/09) was finally released after spending 14 months in Israeli administrative detention. Entima spent the final stage of his detention in Ketziot Prison, in southern Israel, in breach of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) which provides that detainees ‘shall be detained in the occupied country.’

Entima was arrested on 13 July 2008, and issued with an administrative detention order for three months by the Israeli military commander in the West Bank. During a 30 minute interrogation, Entima was accused of weapon possession and was also charged with this offence under Israeli military orders. It is not clear why Entima was simultaneously charged with the offence and given an administrative detention order.

Entima’s initial administrative detention order was renewed on 12 November 2008 (four months) and again on 11 March 2009 (four months). On 7 July 2009, Entima was issued with his fourth administrative detention order for a further two months.

On his release today, Entima spoke to representatives of DCI-Palestine and informed them that he was told last week that he had been given a fifth administrative detention order for six months. It was only yesterday, Tuesday, 8 September, that Entima was informed that he would be released today. ‘I still can’t believe I am free,’ Entima said, ‘this time last week I was so depressed.’ When asked what he missed most during his 14 months in detention, Entima replied, ‘I missed my parents the most.’ In the last 14 months Entima was only permitted to receive two family visits from his mother, and each visit only lasted 45 minutes. Entima now plans to resume his education and sit for his Tawjihi exams, the final year school exams in Palestine.

DCI-Palestine would like to thank everybody who wrote letters on behalf of Entima al-Lahham requesting that he either be charged with a legitimate offence and tried in open court with internationally accepted fair trial rights, or be immediately released.

Administrative detention

Administrative detention is detention without charge or trial and is often based on ‘secret evidence’. Israeli Military Order 1591 empowers military commanders to detain Palestinians, including children as young as 12, for up to six months if they have ‘reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security require the detention’. The initial six month period can be extended by additional six-month periods indefinitely. This procedure denies the detainee the right to a fair trial and the ability to adequately challenge the basis of his or her detention.

There are currently around 387 Palestinian men, women and children in administrative detention. For more information please visit DCI-Palestine’s Freedom Now campaign page.