Palestinian circus trainer marks year in Israeli jail without charge

Bethlehem/PNN/

Palestinian circus continue to ask you to contact your Ministers of Foreign Affairs, your diplomatic representations to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the EU representation offices in your country, to put pressure on Israel to stop the arbitrary use of administrative detention and free all Palestinian administrative detainees or give them the right to a fair trial.

Abu Sakha’s hearing against his administrative detention held before the Israeli Supreme Court in Jerusalem was attended by a group of 14 people. The Palestinian Circus School and Abu Sakha’s family are very grateful to those who responded to our call to attend the court hearing.

The delegation consisted of representatives of the Palestinian Circus School, the EU representative Office in Jerusalem, the Belgian Consulate General in Jerusalem, the Swiss Representative Office to the Palestinian Authority, the Spanish Cooperation Agency, Amnesty International, Terre Des Hommes Italy and ISM (International Solidarity Movement).

The court hearing, which was delayed of over three hours, was very brief. It took only 15 minutes to the judges of the Supreme Court to reject the petition based on the opinion of the State of Israel that, according to same secret evidence produced by the Military Prosecutor in December 2015, Abu Sakha still represents a security threat.

No further secret evidence has been produced to corroborate such an unfounded claim. In any case, as long as no charges and accessible evidence are formally brought against him, Abu Sakha will be prevented from defending himself and effectively denied his right to a fair trial.

Israel’s consistent use of administrative detention is a blatant violation of article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – as repeatedly underlined by the UN Human Rights Committee – and Article 78 of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the right of appeal.

Under Israeli law, administrative detention can be ordered for vaguely formulated security reasons in a highly classified manner, denying detainees the possibility of mounting a proper defence.

Israel’s policy of administrative detention allows it to detain people without charge or trial for unlimited renewable periods of one to six months. This violates legal safeguards under international law and must be abolished. When tried, Palestinian prisoners are brought before military courts lacking impartiality and fair trial standards.

Administrative detention has been found to amount to a form of arbitrary arrest with far reaching impact to be considered a form of collective punishment.

For more information on administrative detention, please check Amnesty International’s website at http://www.amnesty.org.il/en/cat/819/ More details on Abu Sakha’s proceeding are available on Addameer’s website at: http://www.addameer.org/news/petition-hearing-against-administrative-detention-mohammad-abu-sakha-held-today

Therefore, we call upon all our supporters and those who believe in the sacred value of the rule of law to stand with us in demanding that Abu Sakha be granted a fair and impartial trial or be immediately released.

On 27 January 2016 the EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah express their longstanding concern about the
extensive use by Israel of administrative detention without formal charge.

Beyond the well-known cases of Etraf Rimawi of the Palestinian Bisan Center for Research
and Development, and Mohammed Abu Sakha, a trainer at the Palestinian Circus School,
there are over 500 Palestinians, amongst them at least 4 minors, who are currently being held
in administrative detention.

The EU calls for the full respect of international human rights obligations towards all
prisoners. Detainees have the right to be informed about the charges underlying any detention,
must be granted access to legal assistance, and be subject to a fair trial.”