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CIHRS marks Palestinian Prisoners Day

Alain Pitton/NurPhoto via Getty Images

This statement was originally published on cihrs.org on 17 April 2018.

On Palestinian Prisoners Day, marked annually on April 17th, the Cairo Institute For Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) expresses its full solidarity with the over 6000 Palestinian prisoners currently in Israeli jails. Since 1948, arbitrary Israeli imprisonment has deprived one million Palestinians of their freedom, rendering it a genuine weapon for repressing Palestinian activism against military occupation. The use of a military system against Palestinians in the Occupied Territory is distinctly problematic. Since 1967, roughly 20% of the total Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and 40% of the male population, has been arrested at least once.

Throughout the week, CIHRS will highlight the profiles of Palestinian prisoners, among which are prominent figures in Palestinian society. These prisoners' stories will shed light on the continuous and systematic arbitrary deprivation of liberty for Palestinians living under a prolonged and brutal military occupation for half a century.

Palestinians in the Occupied Territory are judged based on military regulations, which incriminate a wide spectrum of activities lying within the realm of their basic civil and political rights, including their right to participate in political activities or to freely express themselves. Israeli military regulations prohibit the carrying of any national emblems, including flags, and consider all Palestinian political parties as prohibited organizations. Participation in demonstrations or civic activities, such as student unions, is also forbidden under the regulations. Furthermore, this system subjects Palestinians to military courts lacking the basic minimum of guarantees of due process and fair trial. More than 99% of prosecutions end in convictions.

When the Israeli military authorities lack grounds to arrest, they issue administrative detention orders. Administrative detention is based on "secret evidence," and deprives the detainee of the right of defense. The detention order is usually issued for six months, which can be renewed indefinitely. Over 27,000 Palestinians have been administratively detained since 2000; today, more than 427 Palestinians are subjected to such orders. Human rights defenders and prominent activists in Palestinian society are frequently detained under such orders.

Of utmost concern in recent years, the Israeli military has increasingly detained children at an escalating rate, including by administrative detention. Since 2015, in total a third of all detentions concern children under the age of 18. Today, 356 children are being held in Israeli prisons, including two in administrative detention.

Nearly all Palestinians in Israeli prisons face cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, with many tortured during interrogations. The penitentiary facilities are in dire conditions and prisoners lack access to adequate healthcare, which leads to prisoners dying in jail. Over 200 Palestinians died in Israeli prisons as a result of either extrajudicial killings or medical negligence, since 2000.

Explore the series "Voices for Freedom Behind Bars: Their Stories".‏

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