Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - "The basic problem is a system that revolves around administrative detention, which dates back to the British rule and which Israel today applies in a very liberal way, totally ignoring due process”, notes Prof. Bernard Sabella, a Catholic Fatah representative in Jerusalem and Executive Secretary of Middle East Council of Churches Palestinian refugee service, commenting on the latest case involving the 31 year old Mohammed Allan.
“If there is evidence of a crime or offense”, adds the intellectual and politician, “the alleged offender must be brought before the judge for trial". However, since 1967 this form of detention is applied "arbitrarily to detain thousands of Palestinians, including parliamentarians, and keep them in jail without trial."
The Israeli Supreme Court has suspended the Allan’s detention following his most recent relapse into coma and hospitalization in a critical condition. The Palestinian has been on hunger strike in protest against his indefinite administrative detention for more than 65 and doctors fear he has suffered brain damage. The court did not, however, ordered the man’s release and he is still subject to the detention order.
Under the provision Israel can detain a suspect for lengthy periods, even without any concrete charges, and the detention can be renewed every six months. That measure, once applied only to Palestinian militants, now also applies to Israelis although critics are skeptical about its application in these cases.
Prof. Sabella maintains that this rule "violates a basic human right," which is "due process" for anyone accused "of having committed a crime." It keeps people in prison "for years without trial, against all human and civil rights". "We are concerned - he adds – of its free and unlimited use by Israel."
Referring to the case of Allan, the Fatah representative warns that "even if he were part of Islamic Jihad, but did not commit any crimes nor take part in planning violent acts or violations of the law and public order of Israel, then the arrest is a blatant violation of his basic rights". Even if you feel that he wanted to commit a crime, he warns, you do not have the legal right to put him in jail. "
The law on administrative detention, he said, "is a message sent by Israel, a threat of [preventive] punishment. We are in the presence of a worrying practice, because the system does not guarantee justice but proceeds according to a criterion of selection". In this way, he adds, "the state will saves having to carry out proper investigations, abusing corrective measures; it saves time, but violates the human rights of people and damages the legal system".
Widening the analysis to hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, many of them on hunger strike in protest, Prof. Sabella says that it is "a phenomenon that has been going on for decades" and "the causes" need to be looked at. They are, points out, "the continued occupation by Israel, which prevents it from coming to a common position that would allow Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security. The question of the prisoners - he concludes - is linked to the land issue". (DS)