Earlier this month, Falk expressed deep concern over the fate of two Palestinian prisoners detained without charges by Israel, and called for their immediate release, the UN reported.
“These individuals are protesting against their detention without charges and are suffering immensely for it,” said the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, in a news release.
“There is no acceptable basis for continuing to hold these persons, and Israel will be responsible if any permanent harm results. ”The two prisoners are Mahmoud Sarsak, who is on the 82nd day of his hunger strike, and Akram Rikhawi, who is on the 58th day of his hunger strike. Mr. Sarsak has lost one third of his body weight and Mr. Rikhawi is suffering from aggravated diabetes and asthma,” Falk said on 8 June.
“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,” the Special Rapporteur added.
Massive Hunger Strikes against Arbitrary Detentions
In December last year, Palestinian prisoners began a series of hunger strikes, Falk noted, adding that the strikes have “called attention to Israel’s abusive reliance on administrative detention, but also to conditions that fail to meet legal standards of international humanitarian law for the more than 4,000 Palestinians imprisoned.”
According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Israel currently has approximately 300 Palestinians detained without charges.“I have requested information regarding each of these persons and I will follow up on each case and address this matter in my forthcoming report to the Human Rights Council,” Falk said.
His report to the Council is due on 2 July 2012. Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not United Nations staff, nor are they paid for their work.
Special Coordinator foe Middle East Peace Process “Deeply Troubled”
On 3 May, a senior United Nations official said he was deeply troubled by reports about the critical condition of at least two Palestinians being held by Israel, who have been on hunger strike for over two months, and urged the Government to preserve the health of the prisoners.
The Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, urged all sides to “find a solution before it is too late,” according to a statement issued by his office in Jerusalem.
More than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners began an open-ended hunger strike two weeks ago on 17 April – Palestinian Prisoners Day – to protest against unjust arrest procedures, arbitrary detention and bad prison conditions, according to a news release issued by the UN human rights office (OHCHR).
The UN continues to follow with concern the many issues related to the question of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and detention centres, the statement noted.
“Israel to Abide by its Legal Obligations under International Law”
“The Special Coordinator is deeply troubled in particular, by reports about the critical condition of at least two Palestinian prisoners being held in administrative detention by the Israeli authorities, who have been on hunger strike for more than two months,” it said.
Serry called on Israel to abide by its legal obligations under international law and “do everything in its power to preserve the health of the prisoners.
”Yesterday, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Richard Falk, said he was appalled by the ongoing human rights violations in Israeli prisons amid a wave of hunger strikes by Palestinian prisoners. He called on the international community to ensure that Israel complies with international human rights laws and norms in its treatment of Palestinian prisoners.
Punitive Measures against Palestinians on Hunger Strike
Prison authorities have reportedly taken punitive measures against those on hunger strike, including by denying them family and lawyer visits, confiscating their personal belongings and placing them in solitary confinement, the news release added.
“I am appalled by the continuing human rights violations in Israeli prisons and I urge the Government of Israel to respect its international human rights obligations towards all Palestinian prisoners,” said Falk.
“Israel must treat those prisoners on hunger strike in accordance with international standards, including by allowing the detainees visits from their family members,” Falk added.
20 Percent of Palestinian Population Have Gone through Detention
The independent expert noted that since the 1967 war, an estimated 750,000 Palestinians, including 23,000 women and 25,000 children, have gone through detention in Israeli jails.
This constitutes approximately 20 per cent of the total Palestinian population in the occupied territory or 40 per cent of the Palestinian male population there. “Israel’s wide use of administrative detention flies in the face of international fair trial standards,” said Falk, who noted that Israel currently holds around 300 Palestinians in administrative detention.
“Detainees must be able to effectively challenge administrative detention orders, including by ensuring that lawyers have full access to the evidence on which the order was issued.”
The Special Rapporteur called on the international community to ensure that Israel complies with international human rights laws and norms in its treatment of Palestinians.
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