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Israel: Physicians demand Judge's Disqualification

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel Demands Disqualification of Judge who Questioned a Prisoner's Right to Health

On 15 January 2006, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel called on the court to disqualify Judge Noga Ohad from the case of Ahmed al-Tamimi.

15 January 2006

Al-Tamimi, who is being held in the Israel Prison Service Medical Center (IPS-MC), suffers from kidney failure. He receives dialysis three times a week and requires a kidney transplant. Al-Tamimi has a relative who is willing to donate a kidney, but the IPS has said it will charge $100,000 to carry out the transplant. All prisoners held in IPS facilities are entitled to receive medical services included in the National Health Basket (i.e. the law defining treatment to be provided by Israeli HMOs) regardless of race, nationality, status, or the reason for which they are being held. Atty. Yohanna Lerman from PHR-Israel initially submitted a petition on behalf of al-Tamimi’s against the IPS’s discriminatory decision regarding the kidney transplant in Sept. 2005.

The first hearing in the case took place on 28 December 2005. At the hearing, Judge Ohad asked the parties which crimes al-Tamimi had committed and how many people he killed. She then expressed her opinion that there should be a correlation between the type of crimes al-Tamimi committed and his right to state funded medical care. In the hearing, Judge Ohad is quoted as saying: “The petitioner, a security prisoner who came to harm the sanctity of life, murdered on security grounds. The principle question [is] whether a person who comes to harm or kill us, is eligible for funds for the transplant treatment…”.

The right of prisoners and detainees to receive medical treatment funded by the prison authority is guaranteed by both Israeli and international law. This right is not, and should not be, conditioned on the type of crime a person has committed nor on his/her race or nationality.

Judge Ohad’s statements raises concern that she already made up her mind as to al-Tamimi’s right to medical care - even before the hearing the arguments of the sides. Therefore, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, in the name of Ahmed al-Tamimi, called on the court to remove Judge Ohad from the case.

To view a previous update on the case:

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