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Israel’s treatment of Palestinian prisoners ‘could amount to torture’

Palestinians gather in front of the UNESCO office during a demonstration in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israel jails in Gaza City, Gaza on 9 May 2017 [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency]
Palestinians gather in front of the UNESCO office during a demonstration in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israel jails in Gaza City, Gaza on 9 May 2017 [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency]

The mistreatment of Palestinians prisoners in Israeli prisons has been condemned amid speculations that Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike are being force-fed. This is a practice which, a UN special rapporteur has reiterated, “human rights experts have found could amount to torture.”

Concerns were raised on Tuesday by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, who called on Israel to comply with international law and standards for detention. Michael Lynk said that he was particularly concerned about administrative detention.

#HungerStrike

“Israel’s use of administrative detention is not in compliance with the extremely limited circumstances in which it is allowed under international humanitarian law, and deprives detainees of basic legal safeguards guaranteed by international human rights law,” he explained. Around 500 Palestinian detainees are believed to be in administrative detention, the UN expert pointed out.

Read: Arab League calls for investigation into Israel’s violations against Palestinian prisoners

Lynk also noted that many of the 6,000 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel are held in prisons within Israel, and not in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, in contravention of international humanitarian law. “These transfers create significant barriers to the families of prisoners who wish to visit them due to the difficulty of obtaining permits to enter Israel,” he noted, “as well as the often arduous journey families must undertake to reach their relatives.”

Commenting on the reports he had received concerning the mistreatment of the prisoners — which includes being held in solitary confinement; denied access to lawyers; and experiencing other forms of deprivation — Lynk was adamant that prisoners everywhere have a right to engage in hunger strikes to protest against their living conditions. “They should not be punished as a result,” he added. “Force-feeding is a practice that human rights experts have found could amount to torture.”

The special rapporteur is currently undertaking his annual visit to the region. Due to Israel’s lack of cooperation over his request to travel to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, he is expected to be in Amman, Jordan, from 15 to 19 May.

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