26, June 2015
On the UN’s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
“Victims of torture in Palestine have the right for support and rehabilitation”
For so long, the issue of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails has been one of the most crucial issues that strikes the conscience and hearts of the Palestinian people. This is because Palestinians have a national consensus on supporting the prisoners’ cause which stands as the core of their will.
Today, marks the anniversary of the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture as thousands of innocent citizens in various parts of the world are subjected to different forms of torture, and violations of their basic rights, against what is stipulated in the divine laws, international laws and human rights conventions. This day was formally declared by the UN’s General Assembly in 1997 as an International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, and as a reminder of the agreement of the Convention against Torture issued by the UN in 1984.
Allocating a special day for the victims of torture stems from the importance of supporting them in accordance with the human rights provisions, stated in the international conventions and laws. This is because the immunity against torture is one of the most inalienable rights that cannot be detracted by any means for the fact that it is human dignity.
This anniversary comes while thousands of Palestinian prisoners are held captive behind the bars of Israeli jails, at a time where the Israeli Occupation Forces are practicing all forms of torture and degradation against Palestinian prisoners, and against their basic rights, which are guaranteed by the international agreements, specially the Fourth Geneva Convention. These violations arise from practices of oppression and humiliation and all methods of physical and psychological torture such as solitary confinement, medical negligence, strip search and many other inhuman practices.
The Palestinian prisoners are going through terrible situation and degrading conditions of detention which increases their psychological and physical suffering, in addition to the complicated procedures adopted by the prison authority denying many Palestinian families from visiting their detained relatives. Such procedures are in violation of the International Humanitarian Law and the human rights treaties and conventions, and at the end of the day- aim at crushing the prisoners’ wills and breaking their spirits.
It is worth noting that dozens of women prisoners, including minors, are being subjected to all forms of torture and deprivation which negatively affects them and their families, who are already suffering psychologically, socially and economically. This is in addition to the unfair trials they are often subjected to in with at the Israeli military courts which usually ends up with unjust sentences against them.
On top of that, hundreds of Palestinian children are being held behind the bars of Israeli jails, and are subjected to different forms of degrading treatment that contradicts the Convention on the Rights of the Child and International Humanitarian Law, which provides guarantees for the child’s right to live a dignified life. This is in addition to trials of innocent children in military courts lacking the minimum level of justice.
Today, Khader Adnan, who is at Asaf Harofeeh Hospital now, enters his 50th day of open hunger strike. He is going through serious health conditions threatening his life and taking him into a critical stage. Israel’s apathetic practices against Khader Adnan serves as a prelude to its deliberate intention for killing him by turning a blind eye to his demands and showing disregard, or by using force-feeding which was recently approved by the Israel’s Kennesit, a technique that caused the death of many prisoners.
With his fight in this battle of empty stomach, Khader Adnan sets off the issue of administrative detention, a critical issue that requires mechanisms, and a national and political program on all local, regional and international levels for the sake of providing legal protection for prisoners, putting the international conventions into effect, and obliging Israel to abide by the international law.
The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme points out to the seriousness of the psychological, social and physical effects the Palestinian prisoners are suffering from in the Israeli prisons and to the worsening economic situation the Palestinian people are faced with as well – this is based on the findings of the studies and research conducted by the GCMHP. Further, the policy of collective detention adopted by the Israeli occupation forces against our people is a systematic policy that aims at endangering the safety of the humanitarian Palestinian chracter. However, we reaffirm that the prisoners are an integral and crucial part of the Palestinian national movement as they follow, from behind the bars of the jails, the issues and crises of their people and suggest possible solutions for them.
Palestine’s non-member observer status at the UN, and joining the international conventions and treaties that are relevant to human rights -specially the contractual treaties- reinforce the status of human rights and allows Palestine to become a member in the UN’s Human Rights Council. More importantly, this enables Palestine to suit Israeli officials who committed war crimes after joining the statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) according to what is stipulated by Rome Statute. This allows Palestine to join the International Court of Justice where it’s eligible to demand legal advisory stances in certain issues, and also allows Palestine to join the Third Geneva Convention and the Fourth Geneva Convention through which the issues of Palestinian prisoners and protecting their rights can be brought into international focus.
Today (Thursday 25th of June) the Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister will hand in a notice to the ICC’s Fatou Bensouda prosecutor about three files. These are related to Israel’s war crimes in the Palestinian Territories, and it includes the files of Palestinian prisoners, illegal settlement and aggression against Gaza. The court, after this is completed, has to issue a criminal investigation into these crimes, and it is vital that the court takes its decision by opening this investigation in order for the international immunity of Israel to fall apart, for criminals to be punished, and for ensuring justice to the victims of prisoners. This is a glimmer of hope for achieving justice in this issue.