Human Rights Organizations Demand that Palestinian Prisoners’ Rights are Protected during Ongoing Hunger Strike

 HRO  Demand that Palestinian Prisoners’ Rights are Protected during Ongoing Hunger Strike, 4 October 2011

4 October 2011

Human Rights Organizations Demand that Palestinian Prisoners’ Rights are Protected during Ongoing Hunger Strike

On 2 October 2011, Adalah, in cooperation with Physicians for Human Rights – Israel and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights – Gaza, sent an urgent letter to the Israel Prison Service (IPS) to demand that it protect the rights of hunger-striking Palestinian political prisoners. The prisoners launched the hunger strike on 27 September 2011 to protest against the arbitrary and extreme measures that the IPS has taken against them recently and the continual violation of their fundamental rights.

The ill-treatment and rights violations against Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in Israeli prisons has worsened following the announcement by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in June 2011 of a series of punitive measures against them in response to the  5th anniversary of the capture and detention of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in Gaza. The measures include preventing them from enrolling in higher education programs and bringing books or newspapers into prisons. The IPS also expanded the use of solitary confinement, placed additional restrictions on family visits, imposed additional fines for trivial reasons, stopped the broadcast of Arabic satellite television channels, increased the use of humiliating strip searches for prisoners and their family members, and started to bind their hands and feet during meetings with their lawyers and family visits.

In the letter sent by Adalah Attorney Rima Ayoub, the human rights organizations demanded that the IPS refrain from imposing punishment on the prisoners, as happened during previous hunger strikes. Punishments have included preventing striking prisoners from meeting their attorneys and family members; holding them in solitary confinement, particularly political leaders; and denying them access to a doctor or to medical care.

The organizations also argued that punishing the prisoners who have gone on hunger strike in order to make legitimate demands further violates their basic constitutional rights, including the right to life, bodily integrity, medical treatment, legal counsel, and the right to access the courts, as well as their rights under international human rights law, which prohibits the torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners.

Recently, there has been a serious deterioration in the conditions of confinement of Palestinian political prisoners, who are classified as “security prisoners” by Israel. Several new laws and a set of bills currently pending in the Knesset and collectively known as the Shalit laws seek to imposed additional restrictions on Palestinian prisoners, as a means of exerting pressure on Hamas to release captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.  For more information, see the Joint Statement.

The contents of this press release are the sole responsibility of Adalah, Al Mezan and PHR-I and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union

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