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After PA cuts, Palestinians prisoners’ lawyers work without pay for 5 months

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses Palestinians gathered at the tomb of Yasser Arafat, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, to commemorate the 14th anniversary of his death, on November 11, 2018 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses Palestinians in the West Bank city of Ramallah on 11 November 2018 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

The Palestinian Authority has not paid 27 lawyers of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club since July, Quds News Network reported.

The PA crackdown on the Prisoners’ Club started last year after the club backed hundreds of Palestinian detainees in the Israeli occupation’s jails undertook a mass hunger strike that lasted 41 days, and their action at the time. Following that PA President Mahmoud Abbas suspended its financial backing of the organisation, and established a committee to plan the restructuring of the club, aiming at limiting its tasks to providing services to released prisoners.

Quds News reported that the PA is working to limit the powers of prisoners by cutting the salaries of the lawyers who defend them in Israeli courts.

One lawyer, who has represented 170 Palestinian administrative detainees held in the occupation’s jails since 2011, said: “We are 27 lawyers who became trapped between the disagreements between the Prisoners’ Club and the PA, we are not part of these disagreements, this procedure is unacceptable under any terms.”

The lawyer added:

We cannot leave the prisoners behind, we also cannot administratively neglect their court cases, especially because we appeal against court rulings regularly. Any absence from going to court is unacceptable and we will continue in spite of having our salaries suspended.

READ: Shin Bet, Israel army oppose plan to worsen conditions for Palestinian prisoners

The Prisoners’ Club is an independent organisation established in 1982 and has been receiving funding from the PA to pay for legal costs. However in 1998, the PA established a parallel body called the Ministry for Prisoners and ex-Prisoners’ Affairs. This has centralised the body and subsequently reduced the services it provides.

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