UN rights official calls on Israel to release Palestinian detainees
UN rights official calls on Israel to release Palestinian detainees
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[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories Richard Falk [official website] on Friday called on Israel to release two Palestinian detainees [statement] who have been on hunger strike for several weeks. Falk reported that Mahmoud Sarsak and Akram Rikhawi, who have been on hunger strikes for 82 and 58 days respectively, are in poor health and remain detained although no charges have been filed against them. Falk expressed concern [UN News Centre report] about Israel’s policy of detaining Palestinians for indefinite periods without filing charges. He called on Israel to immediately cease this practice and release all prisoners detained without charges:

These individuals are protesting against their detention without charges and are suffering immensely for it. There is no acceptable basis for continuing to hold these persons, and Israel will be responsible if any permanent harm results. … If Israeli officials cannot present evidence to support charges against these men, then they must be released immediately. Israel must end the appalling and unjust treatment of Palestinian prisoners and the international community needs to raise its voice and take steps to end Israel’s flagrant misuse of administrative detention.

Falk said that he has requested information on all of Israel’s 300 detainees who are held in administrative detention without charges. He said he intends to investigate each case.

Israel has been continuously criticized for its treatment of Palestinian detainees. Amnesty International (AI) on Tuesday urged Israel to release all prisoners [JURIST report] of conscience and administrative detainees or immediately try them under international fair trial standards. Last month UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Israel to try or release more than 1,000 prisoners [JURIST report] who had been on hunger strike to avoid health risks. Earlier the same month, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled against [JURIST report] two detainees who had been on hunger strike in their appeal seeking release from detention. During the same month, Falk expressed his concern [JURIST report] for the continued human rights violations in Israel’s prisons. He called on the country to comply with the international standards of how to treat detainees.