The Fourth Geneva Convention defines administrative detention as:?”The deprivation of liberty of a person at the request not of the judiciary but of the executive branch. Under administration detention, no criminal charges are brought against the detainee and there is no intention of bringing him or her to trial.”
The practice of administrative detention has been systematically employed by the Government of Israel against Palestinians living under Israeli Occupation since 1967. Carried out on the pretext of security, Israel has subjected thousands of Palestinians to administrative detention that breaches all parameters of international law.
Administrative Detention in Israel:
- Between 2009-2011, the lowest number of total detainees held under administrative detention in Israeli prisons per month was 189, while the highest total reached was 564
- Detention has lasted anywhere from 6 months to 2, 3, and even 4 years.
- Administrative detention lacks due process. Detainees are held without trial and neither they nor their attorneys are allowed to see the “secret evidence” against them.
- Even though the Administrative Detention Orders are issued for 6 months, they can be extended for an additional 6 months indefinitely.
- Israel has referred to administrative proceedings as an alternative to criminal trial when sufficient evidence does not exist to charge an individual, or if there is no desire to reveal the evidence.
- On many occasions Israel has administratively detained Palestinians for political opinions, peaceful assembly, and other non-violent actions.
- In violation of international law, many Palestinian detainees have been held inside the State of Israel, as opposed to the occupied territory as required by the Fourth Geneva Convention. On many instances, this violation has led to the denial of the prisoners’ rights to family visitation and attorney consultations.
Administrative detention defies the most basic principles of democracy. The US Constitution strives to uphold these very principles and is stringently opposed to such abhorrent practices, as explicitly addressed in the Bill of Rights:
“[A person] nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;”
“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State… and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”
The issue of Palestinian political prisoners languishing in Israeli jails is one of the core concerns of the Palestinian people and figures very prominently in national political discourse. One in every five Palestinians has been detained by Israel since its military occupation in 1967 and since 2000, 8,000 children under the age of 18 have been detained. Also, scores of Palestinian political prisoners detained prior to the 1993 Oslo Accords, who were set to be released a few months after the signing of the accords, still remain in Israeli prisons to this day. Therefore, Israel’s continued use of administrative detention rubs salt to an already sore wound.
On the occasion of Palestinian Prisoners Day, 1,600 Palestinian prisoners will follow the footsteps of others before them, and go on hunger strikes to protest Israel’s administrative detention policies. These policies stand not only against the basis of democracy but also the internationally-accepted standards of human rights.
The time for Palestinians to enjoy liberty, freedom, and justice for all is long overdue.