Amnesty tells Israel: End detentions without trial (AP) Associated Press) By IAN DEITCH, JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 06/06/12 3:38 am ET)
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JERUSALEM – Amnesty International has appealed to Israel to end the
practice of imprisoning Palestinians suspected of militant activity
without trial, calling in a report issued Tuesday for the release of
hundreds of detainees.
The London-based rights group claimed that the prisoners are
mistreated and that Israel is violating international law with its
practice, known as "administrative detention," which Israel says is
vital to prevent attacks.
The report, entitled ´Starved of Justice: Palestinians Detained
Without Trial by Israel," lists torture and inadequate medical
treatment in prison among violations it says are associated with the
"Israel has a duty to uphold due process and fair trial rights, and
to take effective action to end torture and other ill-treatment of
detainees," said Sanjeev Bery of Amnesty.
The practice drew attention recently when Palestinian prisoners went
on a hunger strike to protest against it. Two men, Thaer Halahleh and
Bilal Diab, were on hunger strike for more than 70 days. Both are
members of Islamic Jihad, a violent Palestinian militant group that
has killed hundreds of Israelis and maimed many more in suicide
bombings, shootings and other attacks.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev denied the allegations of
torture, saying it is forbidden in Israel, and said that prisoners
are treated well and receive good medical care.
Under administrative detention, Israel can keep some prisoners in
custody for months — even years — without charges. Israel has
defended it as a necessary tool to stop militant activity.
"Amnesty International is calling for an end to the practice and the
immediate release of all administrative detainees unless they are
legitimately charged with an internationally recognized crime and
tried according to fair trial standards," the report said.
The 56-page report includes statements from Palestinians who
experienced administrative detention.
Regev said administrative detention is only used to hold those who
pose an immediate security threat. "If we get information from
someone whose neighbor is making explosives for suicide bombers and
that evidence is presented in court, then terror groups will take
violent action against him and his family," Regev said.
"Administrative detention is specifically allowed under international
law, and it is factually incorrect to say otherwise," Regev said,
pointing to Article 78 of the fourth Geneva convention. He said that
other Western countries have the same practice.
Regev said administrative detention is used as a last resort, and the
practice isn´t used only against Palestinians believed to be involved
in terrorism but is also imposed on Israeli extremists.
About 300 Palestinians are currently held in administrative
detention, a sharp decline from past years. About a dozen Israelis
were also held under the policy last year, the government said.
Critics condemn it because there are no charges, and judges can keep
on extending detention time.
Regev said there is a mechanism of checks and balances in place to
safeguard the process from abuse — judges review evidence and
prisoners can appeal their detention. (Copyright © 2012 Agence France
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