Sunday, July 25, 2010

Nine prisoners suffer in solitary confinement in Ashkelon prison

[ 25/07/2010 - 06:38 PM ]

NABLUS, (PIC)-- Nine Palestinian prisoners have been removed from the outside world by the Ashkelon prison department and placed in inhumane conditions in complete isolation from the rest of the prison population, the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said.
The society said that the cells of the prison’s solitary confinement section are only large enough to accommodate a single bed, besides which there remains only enough extra room to take two or three footsteps. The cells have poor ventilation and no sunlight.  Prisoners are only permitted to leave to the courtyard once a day for an hour, and the majority of them prefer remaining in their cells because the courtyard is so small. Most of the time prisoners are shackled by the hands and feet. Food is scarce and is cold by the time it reaches them.
The PPS added that prisoners are unable to make contact with the outside world, and that most remain without family visits due to security reasons alleged by the prison administration, causing some of the prisoners to become mentally and even physically ill. The society explained that the Israeli occupation government keeps them in isolation because it claims that they pose a threat if integrated with other prisoners.
“What makes matters worse, the prison administration has prohibited the prisoners in isolation from bringing in any books, and if a prisoner has committed a violation he would be deprived of electrical appliances, such as TV, radio, or even fans,” said prisoner Abdullah Barghouthi from Ramallah, who was sentenced to 67 life terms. He added that the prison administration deliberately transfers him time to time from one prison to another, so he is unable to become settled in one prison, and that if an inmate attempts to tell the outside world of the conditions in solitary confinement, the prison administration takes away all his electrical appliances or deprives him the right to read.

According to the Israeli prisons authority (IPA), prisoners are placed in confinement for four reasons. The first is for “security purposes”, meaning that the prison department places detained leaders in confinement so other prisoners won’t be affected by them. These security prisoners are in most cases detained for many years. Other prisoners are kept in confinement during the investigation process, which sometimes lasts for three months, because the prison administration believes that if they have contact with prisoners, they will learn from them and not give confessions. The third group is in confinement because of mental illness, and is isolated for the safety of other prisoners. And others are taken there because they are not welcomed by the rest of the prison population because of their ties with the IPA.

The PPS underlined that international conventions, such as the one in Geneva, have banned isolating captives from other prisoners for long periods of time, unless the prisoner’s life is at risk, and in such case he should not be deprived the right to food, drink, and books.
The prisoners’ society has called on the IPA to discontinue its inhumane practices, which are in clear violation of international law, and also called on human rights organizations, especially the general commissioner of the United Nations in Palestine and the International Red Cross, to form a committee to disclose the suffering of the prisoners in solitary confinement and take immediate action in taking them out of isolation.