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Arbitrary Detention by Palestinian Security Apparatuses Continues

Saturday, 30 May 2015 14:50 - [18 - 24 May] - Ref.: 53/2015
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Al-haq-Danish-AwardAwrdAl-Haq has recently documented the following human rights violations carried out by Palestinian Authority (PA) security services in the West Bank. These violations included restrictions on movement, arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of detainees while in custody.

Freedom of association and ill-treatment in detention centres

On Monday 18 May at approximately 3:00 pm, Abd Al-Jabbar Muhammad Jarrar, 49, was arrested by the Palestinian Preventive Security forces without presenting him with an arrest warrant from the city centre of Jenin. He was taken directly to the military medical department in Jenin where he underwent basic medical tests and was then transferred to the headquarters.

Abd Al-Jabbar was placed in solitary confinement in a 1X2 m2 cell that consisted of a dirty mattress and cover. At night, he was taken to the interrogation room where he was questioned by one of the investigators for about an hour. Abd Al-Jabbar was questioned on his activities with Hamas in Jenin. He was also questioned about his visit to a Hamas prisoners' home that he conducted five days prior to his arrest. Abd Al-Jabbar is a leader in the organization.

He was released on the condition that his ID card would remain at the headquarters and that he would return the next morning at 9:00 am. When he returned the next day, Tuesday 19 May, he was taken to the medical department and then to the headquarters. That day, he suffered from high blood pressure but he was not provided with the needed medication and so he resumed his hunger strike. He then was taken back to the previously mentioned cell. An hour later, a nurse offered Abd Al-Jabbar medicine but he refused to take it stating that he was on hunger strike.

At approximately 1:00 pm of that day, he was taken into an interrogation room where he was questioned for roughly 15 minutes about the aforementioned issues. He was taken back to the cell and was detained until 10:00 pm that night. When he was released his ID card remained in their custody, and he was asked to return on Thursday 21 May 2015 at 9:00 am.

On Thursday, Abd Al-Jabbar returned to the Preventive office as instructed where he was detained in a small room with two chairs for approximately two hours. At one point, he knocked on the door and asked to be let out to use the restroom. The guard opened the door and yelled at Abd Al-Jabbar, pushed and fiercely hit him on his chest and left eye, while continuing to verbally assault him. Abd Al-Jabbar yelled at the guard, asking him why he was beating him. The guard attacked him once again and beat him several times on his left shoulder and his head. Two other officers intervened and stopped the beating. He was locked up in the same room without being provided with medical assistance. About half an hour later, an officer came into the room claiming that Abd Al-Jabbar initiated the beating, which he denied. He was then allowed to use the bathroom.

After eight hours of being held in that room, he was taken into the interrogation room where he was questioned for two hours. Abd Al-Jabbar was released that night and returned on Saturday 23 May to collect his ID card. Abd Al-Jabbar claims that the actions by Palestinian Preventive Security are due to his political affiliation and affirms he is free of criminal charges. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 10679/2015)

In a separate incident, on 13 May 2015, Abd Al-Salam Ma'moun Nijem, 22, a university student at Al-Najah University, was detained by the Palestinian Preventive Security forces in Jenin after he had been summoned. He was detained for one week “at the governor's disposal” without being brought before the public prosecution. On 20 May 2015, his detention was extended for another week “at the governor's disposal” without adhering to the relevant legal procedures. Abd Al-Salam claims that he was detained based on his political affiliation even though there are no formal charges against him. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 10685/2015)

Abd Al-Salam had been previously summoned and detained from 22 February 2015 until 2 March 2015 at the Preventive headquarters in Jenin. During that time, he endured ill-treatment, was forced into prolonged standing positions of up to 48 hours, and was threatened by the interrogators. While being interrogated, Abd Al-Salam was accused of receiving money from Hamas in Gaza and was questioned about his student activities with the Islamic Bloc at the university. Abd Al-Salam denied these accusations. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 10512/2015)

Freedom of movement

On Monday 18 May 2015, Ahmad Muhammad Hijawi, 37, was banned from travelling by the Palestinian Intelligence at the Allenby Bridge. Previously, on 25 April 2015, Ahmad was also banned from travelling by the Palestinian Intelligence while on his way to participate and present his paper in a regional conference on social accountability. He was detained at the Central Intelligence interrogation headquarters in Jericho for six days. His personal property, including a laptop and two cell phones, was also confiscated.

While in detention, Ahmad was questioned on his trip, the conference, and his affiliation to Palestinians in Gaza. The interrogator informed Ahmad that they have looked into his personal Facebook activities and saw a connection between him and a resident of Gaza, on which he was questioned for several hours. His detention was extended several times and was accused of 'inciting sectarian strife'. In addition, following his detention, Ahmad's residence was raided by the Palestinian Intelligence. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 10677/2015)

Legal Analysis:

  • Article 11 of the Palestinian Basic Law states that a person can only be arrested with a judicial order and in accordance with the provisions of the law. As such, the arrest of Abd Al-Salam at the disposal of the governor contradicts this law. In addition, Al-Haq calls on Palestinian security apparatuses to abide by Palestinian laws as well as international standards when carrying out arrests and detention. The Palestinian criminal procedure code requires that detainees be brought before the public prosecution within 24 hours of the arrest in order to identify the charges against them, and be brought before judges promptly.
  • Under international law, individuals should be promptly informed of the charges of which they are accused. Once arrested or detained, the individual must then be promptly brought before a judge, a period which is often defined as within 48 hours. Once a judicial order is issued for the release of an individual, it should be immediately implemented. These very basic procedures were ignored in the cases of Ahmad and Abd Al-Salam.
  • The right to freedom of association is guaranteed under both national and international law. Article 26 of the Basic Law stipulates that Palestinians have the right to participate in political life. Internationally, the right to freedom of association is guaranteed in Article 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 29 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The right to liberty and security of person is also affirmed under the ICCPR. The arbitrary arrest of Palestinian individuals, including students, based on their political affiliation is recurring and raises grave concern.
  • Al-Haq condemns the arbitrary arrest and ill-treatment endured by Abd Al-Salam and Ahmad as well as others in Palestinian custody. Under international human rights law, all persons deprived of their liberty must be treated with dignity, and be free from physical and psychological abuse. Al-Haq calls on the State of Palestine to abide by the relevant articles in the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), to which it acceded in April 2014 among others, including the ICCPR.
  • The right to freedom of movement is guaranteed in Articles 11 and 20 of the Palestinian Basic Law which states that it is unlawful to prevent the movement of any person except by a judicial order. The ICCPR further affirms the right to liberty of movement, including the right of an individual to leave any country, including their own. 

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