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Israel/OPT
08.12.09
Urgent Interventions

Arbitrary use of administrative detention against a Palestinian women_Harsh detention conditions at Hasharon Prison

Case ISR 081209/ ISR 081209.VAW
URGENT CAMPAIGNS/ VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Arbitrary use of administrative detention against a Palestinian women/ Ill-treatment/ Harsh detention conditions

The International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Brief description of the situation

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by a reliable source about the administrative detention of Ms. Raja’ Nazmi Qasim Al-Ghoul, 39 years old, as well as of the subsequent harsh conditions of detention at Hasharon Prison, one of Israel’s largest prison facilities.

According to the information received, on 31 March 2009 at 2:00 am, about 30 Israeli soldiers burst into Ms. Raja’ Nazmi Qasim Al-Ghoul’s family home, without a search warrant, and arrested her. It is alleged that during the search, the soldiers broke the cupboards, pulled out the flooring and confiscated the family’s personal computer as well as eight other computers from Mrs. Al-Ghoul’s brother-in-law who owns a cybercafé nearby. While Ms. Raja’ Nazmi Qasim Al-Ghoul was being interrogated at her house, her husband was reportedly taken to the couple’s other home in the Jenin Refugee Camp. When he arrived, he found that the house had already been searched by soldiers and several of their personal belongings had been destroyed. Meanwhile at the house, Ms. Raja’ Nazmi Qasim Al-Ghoul was allegedly strip-searched (by a female soldier), then blindfolded and in shackles taken to Salem detention centre.

According to the same information, Ms. Raja’ Nazmi Qasim Al-Ghoul arrived at the detention centre at 5:00 a.m. and was left in the cold until 8:00 a.m. She was then transferred to Hasharon prison where she stayed for five days. She was later transferred to Jalameth detention centre were she reportedly endured 40 days of interrogation. Protesting against her arrest and treatment, Mrs. Raja’ Nazmi Qasim Al-Ghoul went on a hunger strike.

During the interrogation, Ms. Raja’ Nazmi Qasim Al-Ghoul was reportedly questioned by one main interrogator who was accompanied by five others, at different stages of the interrogation process. She was allegedly subjected to degrading insults and curses, sleep deprivation and confined to a small cell. It is alleged that no one ever informed her about her human rights as a detained person. It is further submitted that she was neither granted access to a legal counsel nor to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) while under interrogation.

After the interrogation, an administrative detention order, valid for six months from the moment of her arrest, was issued against Ms. Raja’ Nazmi Qasim Al-Ghoul on the grounds that she poses a threat to the security of the area. Due to her poor health, the detention was reportedly shortened to three months by the Military judge Amit Fries. However, this decision was overruled following the military prosecution’s successful appeal to the Military Court of Appeal. It is noteworthy that no charges have been filed against Ms. Raja’ Nazmi Qasim Al-Ghoul. Her administrative detention was due to expire on October 2009 but it was renewed for an additional six months, ending on 29 March 2010.

Since her detention, Ms. Raja’ Nazmi Qasim Al-Ghoul has been able to see her parents and sister regularly but her husband has only been allowed to visit her once. She reportedly suffers from high blood pressure, heart problems and anaemia and her health has deteriorated due to the harsh prison conditions, including overcrowding, humidity, lack of natural sunlight, adequate ventilation and poor hygiene standards. While Ms. Raja’ Nazmi Qasim Al-Ghoul was taken to Meir hospital for a full medical examination on 19 November 2009, the doctors reportedly did not speak any Arabic and she was not given her medical report until requested by her lawyer. She was reportedly only told that her medical condition was good and given some medicine. She asked for a second opinion, but was not allowed to see a private doctor.

This is not the first time that Mrs. Al-Ghoul has been detained by the Israeli Army. In 1989, she was sentenced to four months in prison and a fine of 16,000 NIS. In 2006, she was sentenced to nine months in prison for her work with Meshkat Prisoner Support Association, after it was declared illegal by the Israeli authorities.

Background Information

Israel has been holding hundreds of persons from the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) in administrative detention. In the occupied Palestinian West Bank, the Israeli army carries out administrative detention on the basis of Military Order 1226, which empowers military commanders to detain an individual for up to six months if they have “reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security require the detention.” On or just before the expiry date, the detention order is also frequently renewed and this process can be continued indefinitely.

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 incommunicado detention for an extended period, subject to renewal.

The United Nations Committee Against Torture has already expressed concern that administrative detention does not conform with article 16 of the Convention[1]. This type of indefinite administrative detention, following manifestly unfair proceedings, can amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. On the issue of prison conditions of incarcerated Palestinian women, including in Hasharon Prison, OMCT and PCATI in a 2005 alternative country report to the United Nations Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), already highlighted that “female Palestinian detainees and prisoners are often held in poor conditions of detention that are in contravention of the standards set in Israeli law, international law and the UN Minimum Standard Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners”.

The International Secretariat of OMCT expresses its deep concern about the situation of Mrs. Raja’ Nazmi Qasim Al Ghoul and, in particular, the fact that the procedure under which her administrative detention has been ordered and prolonged, as well as her detention conditions, do not meet international human rights standards, including her right not to be arbitrarily detained as well as her absolute right at all times not to be subjected to any cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Action requested

Please write to the authorities in Israel urging them to:

  1. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Mrs. Raja’ Nazmi Qasim Al-Ghoul;
  2. Guarantee immediate and unconditional access to all members of her family and adequate medical care, including the independent specialized, gender-specific care, that she may require;
  3. Order her immediate release in the absence of valid legal charges that are consistent with international legal standards, or, if such charges exist, bring her promptly before an impartial, independent and competent tribunal that will ensure due process at all times;
  4. Guarantee that adequate compensation is awarded to Mrs. Raja’ Naymi Qasim Al-Ghoul for the violation of her human rights;
  5. At all times ensure strict respect for international human rights and humanitarian law in the exercise of its jurisdiction, including in connection with military operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Addresses

  • Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister, 3, Kaplan Street, PO Box 187, Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem, Israel, Fax: +972- 2-651 2631, Email: pm_eng@pmo.gov.il
  • Mr. Menachem Mazuz, Attorney General, Fax: + 972 2 627 4481; + 972 2 628 5438; +972 2 530 3367
  • Brigadier General Avihai Mandelblit, Military Judge Advocate General, 6 David Elazar Street, Hakirya, Tel Aviv, Israel, Fax: +972 3 608 0366, +972 3 569 4526, Email: arbel@mail.idf.il, avimn@idf.gov.il
  • Permanent Mission of 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 the embassies of Israel in your respective country.

Geneva, 8 December 2009

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

[1] CAT/C/ISR/CO/4, para 17









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