Al-Haq commends President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to release all persons unlawfully detained in the aftermath of the recent events in the Gaza Strip, and his emphasis on upholding the rule of law,
in particular with regards to arrests and detention. Al-Haq is now awaiting the full implementation of this decision, namely the immediate release of the aforementioned detainees.
At the same time, Al-Haq is deeply concerned with the Hamas authorities’ arrest and detention of Fateh members, Mr. Ibrahim Abu an Naja, Dr. Zakaria al Agha and others, carried out yesterday in the Gaza Strip. These arrests and detentions were motivated by specific political ends, and are therefore arbitrary and contrary to the Palestinian Basic Law and the Penal Procedures Law No. 3 of 2001.
Furthermore, the International Convention Against the Taking of Hostages recognises as illegal the act of depriving individuals of their personal liberty with a view to compelling others to do certain acts against their will. Such intent was manifest in the statement made by Hamas spokesman, Mr. Sami Abu Zuhri, in an interview with Al Jazeera yesterday, Friday, 1 August 2008: "Recent detentions in the Gaza Strip were a reaction to what was going in the West Bank. These detentions were meant to put pressure on the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank to release Hamas leaders and activists." While this Convention is non-binding in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), these practices offend its core precepts and therefore put the authorities at odds with standards of conduct accepted by the international community.
Al-Haq calls for the following:
- The release of all persons detained on the basis of political affiliation and compliance with provisions of Palestinian law in force in the OPT related to arrests and detentions in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
- The punishment of all persons who violate due process safeguards prescribed by the Palestinian Basic Law and the Penal Procedures Law No. 3 of 2001.
- The cessation of all arbitrary detentions in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
- The denial of support of or amnesty to any persons who have committed serious crimes against detainees, including murder, torture and the degradation of human dignity, in any prospective political agreement between Palestinian political factions. The absence of accountability has effectively enabled the ongoing perpetration of heinous crimes and self-assurance among perpetrators that they are immune to prosecution.
- The promulgation by the Palestinian President of a law prohibiting torture and punishing perpetrators, in line with the Convention Against Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment – given the broader concern that arbitrary arrest and detention create conditions conducive to torture.
- Ends -