It’s time to hold Israel accountable for violating prisoner rights, PLO says

PNN/ Bethlehem/

The Palestine Liberation Organization in a statement today said that Israel, the occupying power, continues to flagrantly violate international law with little to no reaction from the international community of states.

“The culture of impunity that pervades third state policies vis-à-vis Israel is only serving a culture where Israel continues with its policies without any form of accountability. The international community of states must ensure they meet their obligations under international law and must play an active and important role in pushing both sides to end their violations and create the conditions for a just and lasting peace,” statement said.

PLO said that the policy of arrest and detention exercised by the Israeli military authorities is only one example of the oppressive policies used by Israel to maintain control over the Palestinian population.

Since 1967, Israel has arrested more than 800,000 Palestinians, more than a third of the Palestinian population, accentuating the mass nature of this policy. Moreover and Because of the breadth of Israel’s definition of “security,” Palestinians can be arrested and imprisoned for practically any form of public activity, regardless of whether or not they present any so-called “security threat”.

The practical implication of these broadly-defined offenses is the criminalization of many aspects of Palestinian civic life. For example, the political parties that comprise the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) are still considered “illegal organizations” even though Israel has been engaged in negotiations with the PLO since 1993 and coordinates security aspects with the Palestinian National Authority.

“In an attempt to constrain and thwart the peaceful resistance of Palestinian prisoners, the Israeli Prison Services (IPS) has escalated punitive and repressive measures against prisoners. In fact, the Knesset passed several discriminatory laws against Palestinian prisoners, the latest, allows for the force feeding of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike and a military order that calls for enforcement of Israel’s criminal law in military courts. Moreover, the Knesset has also permitted the Israeli Shabak (General Intelligence Service) to investigate Palestinian prisoners without requiring the Shabak to present proper documentation of the investigation process.”

The issue of Palestinian prisoners and its legal, judicial, humanitarian and political dimensions are a high priority in the Palestinian national program.

The PLO continues its political, legal and diplomatic efforts in international forums and organizations, capitalizing on the accession of Palestine to the Geneva Conventions and the Rome Statute of the ICC to serve as means to both justice and accountability for crimes committed in the occupied state of Palestine.

The PLO also urged the international community including international legal organizations to oblige Israel to comply with bilateral agreements and international law. It called for:

– The Immediate and unconditional release of all Palestinian prisoners as key to the realization of just and comprehensive peace;

– Repealing discriminatory laws and legislation in particular administrative detention policy and other administrative penalties that have been already abrogated by the British mandate in 1948. The infliction of administrative penalties is an illegal practice by which the right to freedom and fair trial is denied. However, Israel continues to impose administrative penalties in contravention of international humanitarian laws and norms especially Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949, the Hague Conference of 1907, UN Charters and International Resolutions of 1960;

– Ceasing  the policy of physical and psychological torture during investigation; provide prisoners with proper medical and health care including medicine, food, education, dental healthcare; facilitate uninterrupted family visits; stop political arrest and solitary confinement; refrain from violating the immunity of PLC members.

– Stopping the transferal of Palestinian prisoners to jails inside Israel proper and comply with Geneva Convention on this matter