AL-HAQ PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
13 March 2006
Al-Haq is profoundly dismayed by the second extension of the administrative detention order against Al-Haq fieldworker, human rights defender and father of two young children, Ziyad Hmeidan. Initially detained on 23 May 2005, Ziyad has so far spent ten months in detention without any formal charges being brought against him, and without access to a judicial process that meets universally accepted standards of fair trial. Ziyad‘s detention has been raised by international and local human rights organisations, as well as by the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders, who visited Ziyad in October 2005 and raised his case in her communications with the Israeli government. However, this has not deterred Israel’s flagrant disregard for universal principles of justice and Ziyad‘s fundamental human rights. Under a previously extended administrative detention order, Ziyad was scheduled to be released on 21 March 2006. On 12 March 2006, Ziyad was informed that his administrative detention will be extended for a further four months.
The Israeli authorities have justified Ziyad‘s detention on the basis of secret evidence that has not been disclosed to either Ziyad or his lawyer, effectively rendering it unchallengeable in judicial proceedings and denying Ziyad his right to a fair trial. Although a military judge has reviewed the evidence against Ziyad on three occasions, each time this has simply amounted to an unquestioning endorsement of the administrative detention order. During the 3 January 2006 appeal against the first extension of Ziyad‘s administrative detention order, the military court openly acknowledged that the public evidence against Ziyad was insufficient to justify his ongoing administrative detention, or to charge him with an offence. Nonetheless, the judge held that the secret and undisclosed evidence showed that Ziyad posed a "real threat" to Israeli security, and therefore the administrative detention was justified. It must be noted that although Ziyad was the subject of prolonged interrogation at the Moscobiyya detention facility in Jerusalem upon his initial detention in May 2005, these interrogations revealed no incriminating evidence against him.
While international human rights law does allow for the exceptional use of administrative detention, it places clear limitations on the use of such an extreme measure. Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Israel is a State Party, guarantees to everyone the right not to be subjected to arbitrary detention and, if arrested, to be promptly informed of the reasons for the arrest and of any criminal charges. While Israel has derogated from its obligations under this article, the UN Human Rights Committee made it clear in its 1998 periodic review of Israel‘s compliance with the ICCPR that a State party may not depart from the requirement of effective judicial review of detention. At a minimum this would require that the detainee be informed of the reasons for detention. Unquestionably, Ziyad‘s treatment fails to meet this minimum standard.
The extension of Ziyad‘s administrative detention order severely compounds Israel‘s already flagrant violation of his fundamental human rights, imposes further hardship on his family, and undermines Al-Haq‘s ability to promote and protect human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In light of Israel‘s unwillingness to present concrete evidence against Ziyad, formally charge him with a criminal offence and allow him the opportunity of a fair trial, Al-Haq demands his immediate release.
- Ends -