Force-feeding involves violent injection of a plastic tube in the prisoner's nasal opening to reach down to the stomach, carrying liquid nutrition.

UN: Israeli force-feeding law a violation of “internationally-protected human rights”

PNN/ Jerusalem/

The Israeli occupation authorities  on July 30 2015 have adopted law allowing the force-feeding of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, under pretends of concern for the life of the prisoner. The bill was passed despite the international condemnations against repressing the non-violent act of protest by the painful procedure of force-feeding. 

In a statement, the UN said that the law “potentially affects all detainees but particularly Palestinian detainees who have resorted to hunger strikes to protest their conditions, including their prolonged detention on administrative orders without charge.”

Hunger strikes are a non-violent form of protest used by individuals who have exhausted other forms of protest to highlight the seriousness of their situations. The right to peaceful protest is a fundamental human right, statement added.

The Israeli Medical Association has said that force-feeding is tantamount to torture. United Nations human rights experts have called it a violation of internationally-protected human rights. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez, has called “feeding induced by threats, coercion, force or use of physical restraints of individuals, who have opted for the extreme recourse of a hunger strike to protest against their detention … tantamount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, even if intended for their benefit.” The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Dainius Pûras, has observed that ” under no circumstance will force-feeding of prisoners and detainees on hunger strike comply with human rights standards. Informed consent is an integral part in the realization of the right to health.”

The principle of an individual’s right to informed and voluntary refusal of medical measures is reiterated in several basic United Nations human rights documents where lack of free and informed consent is considered a clear violation of an individual’s right to health.

The World Health Organization (WHO), according to guidance on health in prison published by the WHO Regional Office for Europe, [5] including on forced feeding of prisoners on hunger strike, referred to the revised World Medical Association’s Declaration of Malta (Declaration on Hunger Strikers):[6]

“Feeding should never be forced in prison. Such a procedure can only be justified if a serious mental disorder affects the decision-making capacity of the patient. Generally, however, when a hunger strike is the logical expression of a lucidly thought out struggle and not a pathological response by a severely depressed patient considering suicide, prison doctors have to respect the expressed will of the patient and limit themselves to the position of medical counsellor.”

The UN emphasized the importance of working towards improving health and human rights conditions of Palestinian prisoners in line with international standards. The practice of administrative detention is incompatible with international human rights law and should be ended. All detainees should be promptly charged or released.