Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories: Follow-up of case ISR 090709_ISR 090709.VAW_Release of Ms. Majeda Fidda

ISR 090709.2/ ISR 090709.2.VAW
Follow up of case ISR 090709/ ISR 090709.VAW and ISR 090709.1/ ISR 090709.1.VAW

The International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) has received new information in the following situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

New information

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by a reliable source about the release from prison of Ms. Majeda Fidda, a 48-year-old elected member of Nablus Municipal Council who was detained since August 2008, at Hasharon prison, one of Israel’s largest prison facilities.
According to the information received, Ms. Majeda Fidda was released from prison upon the expiration of her administrative order, on 26 January 2010.

Brief reminder of the situation

OMCT had been earlier informed that on, on 6 August 2008, at about 12 am, Israeli soldiers burst into Ms. Majeda Fidda's home and arrested her. Ms. Majeda Fidda was that night transferred to three different locations and endured a two-hour long interrogation. A list of charges was issued against her including her membership of the Change and Reform party which she joined in 2005 when she was elected to the Council. According to the same information, on 8 December 2008, Ms. Majeda Fidda was acquitted of all charges but instead of releasing her she was placed in administrative detention for six month, which was renewed for another four months and extended again until 30 November 2009.
On 23 November 2009, Ms. Majeda Fidda’s administrative detention order was renewed for another two months on the grounds that she poses a threat to the security of the area. It is worth noting that no charges was issued against her, and according to the source, the judge at the judicial review told the military commander that he would not renew the order, unless new (confidential) information on the case was presented. The administrative order was due to expire on 25 January 2010.
OMCT recalls that during her detention, Ms. Fidda was only able to see her sister, who is the sole member of her family holding a Jerusalem identity card. However, it was reported that she was not, at any point, barred from access to an attorney. Ms. Fidda complained of the lack of adequate medical care and the harsh prison conditions, including overcrowding, humidity, lack of natural sunlight, adequate ventilation and poor hygiene standards.
This was not the first time that Ms. Majeda Fidda had detained by the Israeli Army. In 2005 she was placed under administrative detention from 3 March to 2 September 2005.
According to the same information, on 26 March 2009 around 1:30 a.m. Ms. Siham Al-Heh, a 30-year-old social worker from Sourif in Hebron, was also detained by Israeli soldiers. It is alleged that the soldiers burst into her house, destroyed her property and confiscated personal objects including identity documents of the family. It is also alleged that during her interrogation, she was threatened with administrative detention. Like Ms. Fidda, Ms. Al-Heh was not able to see her family and she also complained about the harsh prison conditions. Ms. Al-Heh was due to be released on 25 June 2009 but, like Ms. Fidda, her administrative detention was extended for another 3 months. Ms. Siham Al-Heh was released from prison upon the expiration of her administrative order, on 26 September 2009.

Background Information

Israel has been holding hundreds of persons from the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) in administrative detention. In the occupied Palestinian West Bank, the Israeli army carries out administrative detention on the basis of Military Order 1226, which empowers military commanders to detain an individual for up to six months if they have “reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security require the detention.” On or just before the expiry date, the detention order is also frequently renewed and this process can be continued indefinitely.
Administrative detention deprives detainees of basic safeguards, including the right to challenge the evidence which is the basis for the detention, warrants are not required, and the detainee may be held in incommunicado detention for an extended period, subject to renewal.
The United Nations Committee Against Torture has already expressed concern that administrative detention does not conform with article 16 of the Convention[1]. This type of indefinite administrative detention, in manifestly unfair proceedings, can amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
On the issue of prison conditions that incarcerated Palestinian women face, including in Hasharon Prison, OMCT and PCATI in a 2005 alternative country report to the United Nations Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), already highlighted that “female Palestinian detainees and prisoners are often held in poor conditions of detention that are in contravention of the standards set in Israeli law, international law and the UN Minimum Standard Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners”. Furthermore, in a study conducted by Addameer[2], it was found that lack of specialized gender sensitive care continues to be a problem for detainees in Hasharon prison and other places in the Occupied Territories. Female detainees not only are in need of regular gynaecological consultations but also of being seen by female providers. The situation in Hasharon prison also goes against the recommendations made in 2008 by UNDOC which stated that “specialists in women’s healthcare should be available for ongoing consultations, with arrangements in place for regular visits by gynaecologists[3].”
OMCT wishes to thank all of the individuals and organisations that have taking action as a response to the urgent appeal. No further action is currently required on your part concerning this case.
Geneva, 28 January 2010.

[1] CAT/C/ISR/CO/4, para 17
[2] In Need of Protection. Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli Detention. http://www.aseerat.ps/files
[3] UNODC (2008) Handbook for Prison Managers and Policymakers on Women and Imprisonment. Criminal Justice Series, United Nations, New York, 2008, p.51