Israel Supreme Court upholds indefinite detention of unlawful combatants

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Israel [official website] Wednesday upheld [decision] a controversial law allowing the government to detain unlawful combatants suspected of belonging to terrorist groups. The Incarceration of Unlawful Combatants Law [text, PDF] allows the Chief of the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) [official website] to issue an order to detain any person who is reasonably suspected of direct or indirect participation in "hostile acts against the State of Israel, or [who] is a member of a force perpetrating hostile acts against the State of Israel." The law applies to any person not qualifying as a prisoner of war under the Third Geneva Convention of 1949 [text]. Under the law, unlawful combatants suspected of involvement in terrorism can be held indefinitely, although judicial review of detentions under the law are required every six months. In upholding the law, the Supreme Court of Israel ruled [Ynetnews.com report] that the law's infringement upon personal rights was justified by its goal of limiting acts of terrorism against Israel. Ha'aretz has more.

The Incarceration of Unlawful Combatants Law has been the subject of much criticism [academic backgrounder; JURIST commentary] since it entered into effect in 2002. In June 2006, the Israeli Attorney General refused to apply [JURIST report] provisions of the law to a group of Hamas MPs and ministers detained by Israel.

 

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