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Palestinian efforts to reclaim rights for prisoners

February 17, 2014 at 1:50 am

In its efforts to reclaim rights for Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel, Palestine’s Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs is to file a complaint with the UN Security Council. Minister Issa Qaraqe revealed the move on Monday, citing the ill-treatment faced by Palestinians in Israeli jails as well as the plight of those on hunger strike.

Mr. Qaraqe said that the Palestinian representative in the Security Council, Reyad Mansour, has handed in a letter demanding that action be taken against Israel for its “inhumane actions” against Palestinian prisoners. The letter highlighted the critical situation of the hunger strikers who are “expected to die at any moment”. If that is allowed to happen, said Qaraqe, it will be a “new crime” taking place inside Israeli occupation authority prisons.

Calling for the application of international conventions related to prisoners, Qaraqe added: “The health situation of the prisoners; the absence of fair trials and, in some cases, the lack of any trial at all; the ban on some family visits; aggressive behaviours against the prisoners inside the jails; solitary confinement as a punishment; the misuse of administrative detention; and the detention of minors should all be discussed by the Security Council.”

According to B’Tselem (the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) the number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails reached 5,517 by the end of December 2012. The organisation said that there is no precise figure for those held for short periods.

A number of prisoners have been on hunger strike for some time. Samer Al-Issawi from Jerusalem, for example, has spent more than 200 days on hunger strike and is in a critical condition. When he appeared in an Israeli court two weeks ago the guards hit him in front of his mother and sister.