Israel/OPT
01.06.11
Urgent Interventions

Arbitrary use of administrative detention against a Palestinian man_Harsh conditions of arrest

CaseISR 010611

Arbitrary use of administrative detentionagainst a Palestinian man/ Harsh conditions of arrest

The International Secretariatof the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) requests your URGENT intervention in the followingsituation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Brief description of the situation

The International Secretariatof OMCT has been informed by a reliable source and Antenna International, a member organisation of OMCTSOS-Torture Network, about the administrative detention of Mr. Ahmad Qatamish, 60 years old and permanent resident ofAl-Bireh (in the West Bank), as well as of the harsh conditions of his arrest.

According to the informationreceived, on 21 April 2011 at approximately 2 am, a group of Israeli soldiers arrested Mr.Ahmad Qatamish at hisbrother’s home located in Ramallah. The Israeli soldiers had previously gone,at approximately 1 am, to Mr.Ahmad Qatamish’s family homein Al-Bireh to look for him. They reportedly surrounded the house before entering,without producing any arrest warrant, and kept Mr.Ahmad Qatamish’s wife, his 22 years old daughter and twoother female relatives aged 14 and 69, in order to compel Mr.Ahmad Qatamish to surrender. Thesoldiers reportedly aimed their guns at Mr.Ahmad Qatamish’s wife and daughter’s heads. They forced Mr. Ahmad Qatamish’s daughter, atgunpoint, to call her father to ask for his surrender. A soldier then grabbed thephone and threatened Mr. Ahmad Qatamish with destroying the house and continuingto hold his family, if he did not comply. After his arrest, Mr.Ahmad Qatamish was transferred to Ofer Detention Centre,located near Ramallah, where he was interrogated for 10 minutes about hispersonal information, the PopularFront for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) (includingwhether he was a member or he knew anyone who is a member) and whether he had already been detained in Israel before.

On 3 May 2011, at around 12 pm, the Ofer MilitaryCourt reportedly informed Mr.Ahmad Qatamish’s lawyer that his client would be releasedby 5.00 pm. However, at around 5:30 pm, Mr. Ahmad Qatamish’s lawyer was told that hisclient’s detention would be extended. During more than two hours, Mr.Ahmad Qatamish’s lawyer receivedcontradictory information from the military court concerning the release of hisclient before being informed, at around 8.30 pm, that the Israeli militarycommander of the West Bank had issued an administrative detention order againstMr. Ahmad Qatamish. At 11 pm, his lawyer and family were informed by the IsraeliPrison Service that the detention was ordered for six months. For about 3.5hours, Mr.Ahmad Qatamishwas left without a clear legal status.

According to the same information, the detention order issued on 3 May 2011 contained several format and content errors[1].Although the order was signed by the Head of the Central Military Commander asrequired by the Israelimilitary legislation, it was stamped by a less senior Commander for the Region,Mr. Yair Kolam. On 4 May2011, theIsraeli military authorities issued a new detention order but it was once againstamped by Mr. Yair Kolam. On 8 May 2011, the Ofer Military Judgerequested that the two previous detention orders be discarded and that a newone be presented that was stamped by Mr. Avi Mizrahi, Head of the CentralMilitary Command.

According to Mr.Ahmad Qatamish’s currentadministrative detention order, he is detained for posing an unspecifiedsecurity risk. The military judge reportedly claimed that the security risk wasrelated to Mr. Ahmad Qatamish’s alleged connections to the PFLP and his alleged “planning” of unspecified activities. On 15 May 2011,during a closed hearing, where neither Mr. Ahmad Qatamish nor his lawyer wereallowed to assist, the Israel Securities Authorities (ISA) was meant to presentany secret evidence it had against Mr. Ahmad Qatamish to the Military Judge. On19 May 2011, Mr. AhmadQatamish was eventually informed that his detention order was approved by theMilitary Judge for a period of four months. The military judge reportedlyconsidered that the mistakes made in the first two detention orders as well asthe few hours of illegal detention were balanced out by the security risk Mr.Ahmad Qatamish would be posing. Mr. Ahmad Qatamish is now to be held detained,without charge or trial, until 2 September 2011.

Mr. Ahmad Qatamish has had reportedlyaccess to a doctor and he has regular access to his lawyer. However, to date,his wife has not yet received the authorization needed to visit him.

BackgroundInformation

According to the sameinformation, several years ago, Mr. Ahmad Qatamish was arrested by Israeli authorities and detainedfor a period of six years. He was arbitrarily detained for a year between 1992and 1993, during which time he was allegedly tortured. From October 1993 to1998, he was placed in administrative detention (the detention orders wererepeatedly renewed) before being released in 1998.

Israel has been holdinghundreds of persons from the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) in administrative detention. In the occupied Palestinian West Bank, the Israeli armycarries out administrative detention on the basis of Military Order 1651, whichempowers military commanders to detain an individual for up to six months ifthey have “reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area orpublic security require the detention.” On or just before the expiry date, thedetention order is also frequently renewed and this process can be continuedindefinitely.

Administrative detention deprives detainees of basic safeguards,including the right to challenge the evidence on which the detention is based,warrants are not required, and the detainee may be held in incommunicadodetention for an extended period, subject to renewal.

The United Nations Committee Against Torture has alreadyexpressed concern that administrative detention does not conform with article16 of the Convention[2].This type of indefinite administrative detention, following manifestly unfairproceedings, can amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

The International Secretariat of OMCT expresses itsdeep concern about the situation of Mr.AhmadQatamish and, in particular, the fact that the procedure under which hisadministrative detention has been ordered does not meet international humanrights standards, including his right not to bearbitrarily detained as well as his right to a fair trial and his absoluteright at all times not to be subjected to any cruel, inhuman or degradingtreatment.

Action requested

Please write to theauthorities in Israel urging them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical andpsychological integrity of Mr. Ahmad Qatamish;

ii. Guarantee immediate and full access to all members ofhis family, adequate medical care and his lawyer;

iii. Order his immediate release in the absence of validlegal charges that are consistent with international legal standards, or, if suchcharges exist, bring him promptly before an impartial, independent andcompetent tribunal that will ensure due process at all times;

iv. Guarantee that adequate compensation is awarded to Mr.Ahmad Qatamish and to hisfamily for the violation of their human rights;

v. At all times ensure strict respect for internationalhuman rights in the exercise of its jurisdiction, including in connection withmilitary operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Addresses

Ø Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister,Office of the Prime Minister, 3, Kaplan Street, PO Box 187, Kiryat Ben-Gurion,Jerusalem, Israel, Fax: +972- 2-6512631, Email: pm_eng@pmo.gov.il

Ø Mr. Menachem Mazuz, Attorney General,Fax: + 972 2 627 4481; + 972 2 628 5438;+972 2 530 3367

Ø Brigadier General Avihai Mandelblit, Military JudgeAdvocate General, 6 David Elazar Street, Hakirya, Tel Aviv, Israel, Fax: +972 3 608 0366, +972 3 5694526, Email: arbel@mail.idf.il, avimn@idf.gov.il

Ø Permanent Missionof Israel to the United Nations Office and Specialized Institutions in Geneva,Avenue de la Paix 1-3, 1202 Geneva, Fax:+41 22 716 05 55, Email: mission-israel@geneva.mfa.gov.il

Please also write to theembassies of Israel in your respectivecountry.

***

Geneva, 1 June 2011

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

[1]According tothe information received, the detention order called for an extension of Mr.Ahmad Qatamish’s administrative detention, despite the fact that it was hisfirst order in years. It also referred to him being a suspected Hamas activistalthough the authorities had originally given the grounds of his arrest as hismembership of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a claim thatMr. Ahmad Qatamish has denied. It has also been tampered with using correctionfluid to include Mr. Ahmad Qatamish’s name.

[2] CAT/C/ISR/CO/4, para 17.

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