Monday, April 5, 2010

Prisoners still detained after completing sentences

Gaza – Ma'an – Israel has refused to release two Palestinian prisoners even though they completed their sentences, the Popular Movement for the Support of Prisoners and Palestinian Rights reported Friday.

Popular Movement coordinator Nash'at Al-Waheidi said in a statement that the Israel Prison Service had informed Raed Abu Mugheseib that he would be released after he served six and a half years in jail.

However, the administration of Israel's Ketziot military prison transferred the detainee to the nearby Beer Sheva prison to be held under Israel's 2002 Imprisonment of Illegal Combatants Law.

Al-Waheidi added that Israeli authorities refused to release Munir Abu Diba' after he completed his 11-year sentence in March. He pointed out that an Israeli military court had ruled that Abu Diba' would be deported because he did not have a Palestinian ID. The Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Detainees and Ex-detainees Affairs appealed the decision, considering both the detention and deportation illegal.

Al-Waheidi called on international organizations and human right groups to put pressure on Israel to release prisoners who had completed their sentences, yet remain detained under the Illegal Combatants law.

The law allows the chief of staff of the Israeli military to detain anyone if there is a basis to assume that he or she "takes part in hostile activity against Israel, directly or indirectly" or "belongs to a force engaged in hostile activity against the State of Israel," according to Human Rights Watch. Detainees can be held for up to 14 days without access to a lawyer and have limited choice of counsel.

All detainees held under the law are automatically assumed to be a security threat and can be held without charge or trial as long as hostilities against Israel continue. A detainee may appeal his or her continued detention to Israel's High Court of Justice. But, based on similar appeals lodged in the cases of administrative detainees, the court hardly ever queries a military decision to detain an individual.