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Palestinians Held Illegally in Russian Compound

Palestinian Detainees are being Held Illegally in the Russian Compound

On 5 January 2006, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel petitioned the Jerusalem District Court requesting to transfer 23 detainees being held in the Investigation Unit to an IPS facility.

08 January 2005

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel filed a petition to the Jerusalem District Court on Thursday 5 January 2006. The petition demands that the court require that 23 Palestinian detainees being held throughout their legal proceedings at the Military Court, be transferred to a general unit of a detention center or a prison.

According to the Criminal Code (Enforcement Authorities), detainees held until the completion of legal proceedings are supposed to be transferred to an IPS (Israel Prison Service) facility so that their legally recognized rights are respected. In spite of the fact that the investigation of these detainees ended and the legal proceedings have begun, they continue to be held in the Investigation Unit of the Russian Compound Detention Facility in Jerusalem. This severely violates their legal rights: they do not receive time outdoors, family visitation or the use of the canteen. In addition, the conditions in the cells in the Investigation Unit are known as being particularly difficult: the cells are cramped and lack proper lighting and ventilation. About half of the prisoners, in whose name the petition was filed, are held in cells meant for a smaller number of detainees than those actually being held there, forcing some to sleep on the floor.

Physicians for Human Rights - Israel receives testimonies regarding the conditions in which the prisoners are held in the Investigation Unit through affidavits obtained by lawyers from the detainees themselves. On 21 October 2003 representatives of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel conducted a tour of the Russian Compound Detention Center, but were not allowed to enter the Investigations Unit. No group in Israel, governmental or otherwise, is officially responsible for inspecting the conditions in the Investigation Units of the GSS (Shin Bet).

The petitioners claim that the Criminal Code applies also to Palestinian detainees on trial in Military Courts, and not abiding by it is a serious violation of their rights.

Adv. Andrei Rosental who filed the petition in the name of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, requested that an urgent session be held to hear the case, but Judge Orit Afaal Gabai responded that “I do not see fit to conduct an urgent session… for this type of hearing”. The judge required the respondent, the commander of the Russian Compound Detention Center, to reply to the petition within 7 days (by Wednesday 12 January 2006).

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