‘Starved of Justice’ – Amnesty call for Israel to release Palestinians

Reuters / Ammar Awad
Amnesty International has called on the Israeli government to release Palestinians held in custody without charge or give them a fair trial, condemning the Israeli practice of “administrative detention” as a violation of basic human rights.

Amnesty has released a report entitled 'Starved of justice: Palestinians detained without trial by Israel’, detailing breaches of human rights law associated with “administrative detention.”

The document requests the immediate “end of the practice of administration detention” and the “release of all administrative detainees unless they are to be promptly charged with internationally recognizable criminal offences.”

The report cites cases of the cruel treatment that Palestinian prisoners have been subjected to, such as torture and violence during interrogations. It also highlights how some prisoners were severely punished after going on hunger strike to protest their detention.

“Detainees have been punished by being placed in solitary confinement, fined, and prevented from receiving family visits,” said the report. It added that prisoners whose health worsened as a result of the strikes were not “provided with adequate medical care and have been prevented from seeing independent doctors.”

In addition, Amnesty found that many detainees were denied access to independent lawyers.

The organization has citizen the Israeli government on the basis that the use of “administrative detention” is a breach of the country’s commitment to international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, decried Israel’s use of a system intended as an “exceptional measure against people posing an extreme and imminent danger to security.” She stressed that administrative detention was “a relic that should be put out to pasture.”

As part of an agreement brokered by Egypt in May, Israel agreed to release administrative detainees at the end of the current orders. However, Amnesty International said they had evidence that since then Israeli authorities had renewed 30 orders and issued three new ones.

In light of Israel’s continued used of administrative detention, Amnesty International has appealed to the international community to ensure that Israel “fulfills its obligations to treat Palestinians humanely and refrains from forcible transfer and deportation.”

During the British Mandate in Palestine, which was established in 1923, administrative detention was used to hold both Arabs and Jews. Following the formation of the State of Israel in 1948, the government continued to employ the legislation to detain citizens without charge.