Saturday, September 5, 2009

Women refuse Israeli strip search at Ofar Prison, human rights organization takes case

03.09.09 - 15:17

Jerusalem / PNN – The Israeli prison administration is forcing female visitors to strip completely before seeing family members at Ofar, a prison built on Ramallah lands.

The Adalah Center demanded this week in a letter to the Israeli Prison Authority and the Ofar Prison that they put an immediate stop to the “humiliating physical inspection of Palestinians, especially citizens of East Jerusalem, as a condition of entry to visit relatives with the prison.”

Attorney Abeer Baker issued a complaint on behalf of two women who were willing to come forward, blowing the whistle on the latest violations of human rights.

The women are citizens of East Jerusalem and were subject to “humiliating and degrading treatment” as the complaint reads, before being allowed to visit their family members in Ofar Prison.

“After having finished an invasive inspection, one of the guards asked them to go to an adjacent room where they were obliged to strip completely naked,” the Adalah Center reports today.

The room had windows that were difficult to see through, but it was possible to note the presence of a guard on the other side, reports the lawyer. But through a loudspeaker a guard ordered the two women to take off all of their clothes. The women rejected the request. As the report states, one of the guards then entered the room and told the women that they would be body searched after undressing and that this was a condition of entering the prison. The two refused in protest and returned home.

This is not the first such incident with women saying in the past that they prefer to miss the visit than to become naked in front of Israeli guards.

The two women exemplify what is being described as a widespread phenomenon affecting many Palestinian families from East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Many women are known to have had to succumb to this in order to visit their children.

Adalah says that by demanding strip searches, illegal in most cases, the Israelis are violating international law.

Adala: Ofer prison authority imposes strip searches on female visitors
[ 04/09/2009 - 04:03 PM ]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Adalah, The legal center for the Arab minority rights in Israel, called in a letter to the Israeli prison authority and the Ofer prison authority for an end to the practice of strip searching women visiting their relatives in prison.

The centre sent the letter on behalf of two Palestinian women from occupied east Jerusalem who had to give the visit on more than one occasion after arriving at the prison because they were told they would have to be strip-searched if they wanted to see their imprisoned relatives.

The two women said that on arrival at the Ofer prison they went through the usual search, then they were asked to go to an adjoining room, when they entered the room, they saw that it had a window, they could not see who is behind that window, but they heard a female telling them on a loud speaker to strip naked and when they refused a female prison officer entered the room and told them that they have to be strip-searched if they wanted to see their relatives. They refused and returned without visiting their imprisoned relatives.

The two women concerned said that this was not a one off, but it happened to them several times and added that women from east Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank are subjected to this sort of humiliation when they visit their relatives in prison.

Adalah for its part said that these searches were illegal except in certain cases where a person is suspected of carrying drugs or arms on his body and that such searches contravene the rights of both the visitor and the prisoner.