Ramallah, 19 May 2011
On 19 May 2011, almost a month after his arrest on 21 April 2011, the Israeli authorities have confirmed the administrative detention order against Ahmad Qatamish, the renowned Palestinian writer and political scientist. The duration of his administrative detention has been set at 4 months, due to expire on 2 September 2011.
The confirmation came after a week of complete uncertainty as Mr. Qatamish’s administrative detention order was first reviewed on 12 May 2011 but no decision was taken until the afternoon of 19 May 2011. This unnecessary delay demonstrates one of the many flaws of the Israeli military order regulating administrative detention, which states that reviews of administrative detention should take place 8 days after the order is first issued at the latest but does not impose a limit on how much time a judge can take to reach a decision thereafter.
Addameer is utterly dismayed by the military judge’s decision and deems this to be a clear case of arbitrary detention motivated solely by the peaceful expression of Mr. Qatamish’s political opinions and activism. Addameer is particularly appalled by the military judge’s decision to confirm Mr. Qatamish’s order despite the outrageous mistakes that have taken place in the process of his detention. Although the military judge reduced the period of detention from 6 to 4 months on account of the aforementioned errors, she also argued that these were superficial and insufficient to render the order void. On the basis of secret evidence presented by the Israeli Security Agency, the military judge further claimed that Mr. Qatamish’s administrative detention was justified because he poses a “security threat” on account of his alleged connection to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a charge he has repeatedly denied. The precise nature of this “security threat” and of Mr. Qatamish’s alleged connection to the PFLP, however, were not elaborated in the decision and will remain secret, essentially leaving Mr. Qatamish without any real means to defend himself. Furthermore, in the 29 days that Mr. Qatamish has spent in detention, he has only been interrogated once for 10 minutes, casting serious doubts about the conclusiveness of the evidence against him and the level of “threat” he really poses to Israel.
Addameer calls on the international community, particularly representatives of the European Union, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and international human rights organizations, to follow Mr. Qatamish’s case closely and to intervene with the Israeli authorities to demand Mr. Qatamish’s immediate release given his status as a prisoner of conscience.