A heavily pregnant migrant worker from Ghana has been imprisoned and kept in isolation by the Israel Prison Service after she refused to be tested for tuberculosis, Haaretz reported.
Despite the World Medical Association and the United Nations saying that holding pregnant women in isolation could severely hurt their physical and mental health and potentially harm the foetus, Jossephine Kwabiwaa has been held in solitary confinement for four months, drawing concerns from Ghana and several human rights organisations that have been critical of the prison service.
Jossephine’s refusal to carry out the medical tests which includes x-rays, is due to her concerns of the impact radiation may have on her unborn child.
During an interview with the Afro-Palestine Newswire Service, Ghanaian legislator, Ras Mubarak, said he will be following up on the case with the relevant authorities and added: “Israel’s treatment of Jossephine Kwabiwaa is racist and inhumane. Israel says it cares for Africa, but its long history of racism against Africans tells a very different story.”
Over a decade from the mid-2000s, about 64,000 Africans – mainly from conflict-torn Sudan and Eritrea – arrived in Israel across the then-porous border with Egypt’s Sinai, which was fenced off several years ago.
Many were enslaved or imprisoned for ransom at the hands of Bedouin smugglers in the Sinai desert. Today some 36,000 remain in Israel, with 6,000 more children, according to government data.
Physicians for Human Rights Israel is demanding that 32-year-old Jossephine be moved from isolation so she can receive proper medical care.
Anat Lidvin, director of the Physicians for Human Rights’ Department for Prisoners, told Haaretz: “There is a concern that for four months, no one on the Israel Prison Service’s medical staff who met Jossephine alerted anyone about the harm that could be caused to her as a result of her isolation or demand that it end.”
Moreover, it was reported that in the past two weeks, the prison service has tried to fly Kwabiwaa back to Ghana against her will. However, in both cases, she was returned to Givon Prison because the airline, which had been informed of her condition by human rights doctors, refused to take her on board.
Jossephine’s lawyer has informed the media that her mental health has taken a great toll since her imprisonment, and fears she will not be able to withstand another attempt to fly her out of the country.
The lawyer also alleged that the Israeli prison service is expecting her to pay for pregnancy-related health costs, including routine check-ups and supplements.
This case shows how the Israeli prison service violates prisoners’ rights and threatens their health and life.
“Government agencies must work to shift responsibility for medical care to Israeli prison service prisoners to an institution that is knowledgeable about medicine and can perform treatment according to recognised ethical medicine standards in Israel’s public health system.”
Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association reports that Israel does not give pregnant prisoners preferential treatment in terms of diet, living space or hospital transfers. During hospital transfers the woman’s hands and feet are shackled with metal chains, and in the ward they are chained to their beds until they enter the delivery room, and are shackled again immediately after giving birth.