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Petition to Israel High Court: Stop Prisoner Abuse

Physicians for Human Rights - Israel Petition to High Court: Stop Prisoner Abuse

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel filed a petition to the Israeli High Court today against the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) demanding that the systematic abuse of prisoners at the "Sharon" prison facility end immediately.

Over the past several months Physicians for Human Rights-Israel has received numerous complaints from prisoners held at the "Sharon" prison facility, located in the center of Israel, regarding prisoner abuse and humiliation by prison guards. In some cases the abuse included cases of extreme violence against the prisoners. There were incidents in which prisoners were shackled down and then beaten by the guards.

The impression received from the prisoners' affidavits given to lawyers sent by Physicians for Human rights-Israel, is that the abuse of prisoners in this prison is systematic and not related to "a few rotten apples".

One prisoner related that he was severely beaten by several guards and then shackled. The guards then continued to beat him and seriously wounded his eye. He was not allowed to see a doctor until at least several days after the incident. Other prisoners reported abuse by guards as a way of dealing with the prisoners' hunger strikes and refusals to follow certain instructions. The prison warden himself witnessed an event during which a prisoner was chained after having been beaten unconscious by guards for refusing to wear a shirt. The warden's response to seeing this was unacceptable: he told the shackled prisoner that maybe next time he should listen to the guards and wear a shirt.

Attempts over the past six months by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel to bring these cases, and other examples of abuse, to the attention of the IPS with the hope of effecting change, have not been successful. Even after having sent numerous letters to the relevant people and bodies within the IPS the abuse continues. This abuse is in violation of both Israeli and International Law. Therefore, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel filed the petition to the High Court today through Adv. Yohanna Lerman, who wrote the petition based on information, especially prisoners' testimonies, gathered by the association.

The High Court itself has said in the past on several occasions that the basic human rights of prisoners cannot be revoked. The court noted that simply because their freedom of movement is restricted, due to the very nature of incarceration, and they live behind prison walls- out of sight of the general public- does not mean that the prisoners have lost their human dignity, nor have they lost their basic human rights.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel calls upon the High Court to instruct the IPS to investigate the claims at once and to immediately end all abuse of prisoners.

The petition (Hebrew only) can be acquired from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) is a non-partisan, non-profit organization founded in 1988 and currently comprising some 940 members, with the aim of striving to promote medical human rights in Israel and in the territories under Israel's effective control. The basic values of PHR-Israel are human dignity, protection of bodily and mental integrity, and promotion of the right to health and medical care.

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