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Parliamentary committee questions Gaza Interior Minister on security and freedoms

February 14, 2014 at 9:13 am

The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in Gaza has questioned the Interior Minister over alleged security transgressions and violations of basic freedoms. The PLC’s Monitoring and Inspection Committee said that it asked Fathi Hammad about the escape of three criminals from the Central Prison in Gaza and listed several complaints from individuals and human rights groups.

The complaints included arbitrary detention without recourse to lawyers and citizens being prevented from leaving the Strip.

During a hearing at the Parliament Building in Gaza City, the Committee told Mr Hammad about the issues in question. The minister refuted all of the allegations against his officials and insisted that they had not acted outside the law.

When asked about Interior Ministry officials tackling people over the style of their clothing, the minister said that such allegations were no more than propaganda. The ministry had not launched such a campaign and it did not detain anyone for this reason. The explanation was accepted by the Committee on the grounds that it was not only demonstrated to be true but also because the complaints had been lodged by lobby groups, not individuals. No details of any individual examples of such an abuse of power were submitted with the complaints.

Hammad said that everyone who was prevented from travelling abroad had either been convicted of collaboration with the Israeli occupation or their travel would pose a threat to the security of the Gaza Strip. “There are only a few citizens in this category,” said the minister. “We cannot publicise their personal details for security reasons and their own protection.”

With regards to the prison break, Mr Hammad acknowledged that there was a problem. The three men had been accused of murdering other Palestinians and were recaptured within a very short time. He blamed the hasty reconstruction of prison and detention facilities for the security lapse. “More than 100 police stations were destroyed during the Israeli war against Gaza last November,” he said “The reconstruction work affected security levels for a while but this issue has now been resolved.”