Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Defenseur des droits humains de l'organisation al haq en prison/ Al Haq's fieldworker in prison

Dessous, information en anglais sur l'arrestation et la detention de Ziyad un des correspondants locaux de Al Haq, qui a ete arrete en mai. Zyad travaille pour al haq depuis 5 ans, il a deux enfants en bas age. Il a ete mis en detention administrative- une procedure employee par les Israeliens par laquelle ils emprisonnent de nombreux Palestiniens sans aucun chef d'accusation. La seance de son audience a ete avance d'un jour et ainsi le personnel de Al Haq n'a pas pu y assister. Zyad a ete transfere dans un centre de detention dans le desert de Neguev repute pour des conditions de detention deplorable.
Merci d'ecrire pour demander sa remise en liberte aux autorites israeliennes

Al-Haq Fieldworker Ziyad Hmeidan in Administrative Detention.

On 23 May 2005, Al-Haq fieldworker Ziyad Muhammad Shehadeh Hmeidan wasdetained at Qalandia checkpoint. Since his detention, Al-Haq has beenfollowing his situation closely and has attempted to secure his release andensure he is not subjected to ill-treatment or torture.Ziyad, who has worked for Al-Haq for five years, was detained on 23 May,around 16.30, while crossing Qalandia checkpoint. Al-Haq learned of hisdetention when two Al-Haq staff members passed through the checkpointseveral hours later and discovered him handcuffed by the checkpoint. Ziyadtold them that he had handed over his ID (#999602097) to Israeli forces, whoran the number through a computer, and then took him aside and handcuffedhim. Ziyad was able to speak to the Al-Haq staff members for about half anhour, after which Israeli soldiers removed him to a small room, ostensiblybecause it was getting cold.Initial contacts made by Al-Haq suggested Ziyad might be taken to Beit ElDCO. However, two days later, Al-Haq learnt that he had initially beentransferred to an open-air facility, believed to be part of the Atarot IDFfacility, and had then been transferred to Etzion detention centre.At Etzion detention centre, Ziyad was able to communicate with lawyers fromother human rights organisations visiting the prison. Through them, Al-Haqlearnt that Ziyad had not been subjected to any physical abuse, and had beeninterrogated for around two hours on 24 May on subjects unrelated tosecurity or political issues, such as his marital status. At that time, Ziyad had been informed that he would have a hearing on 31May, which several staff members from Al-Haq planned to attend. However,Al-Haq subsequently discovered that Ziyad had first been transferred to theEast Jerusalem Moscobiyya interrogation centre, also known as the RussianCompound, on May 27 and had been interrogated there for approximately threedays. Al-Haq then learnt that the hearing, which was scheduled for 31 May,had taken place a day earlier, thus preventing any staff members fromattending.At the hearing, Ziyad's detention was extended for a further 18 days. Soonthereafter an "Order Prohibiting Meeting with Counsel" was also issued for aperiod from 13.30 on 30 May until 23.59 on 5 June. The order, which has its legal basis under Israeli law in Military Order 378of 1970, is in contravention of international legal protections safeguardingthe rights of detainees. While Israel has derogated from its obligationsunder Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,the UN Human Rights Committee made it clear in its 1998 periodic review ofIsrael's compliance with the treaty that a detained person must be allowedaccess to a lawyer within 48 hours of the detention.Upon learning about the hearing, Al-Haq employed the services of Israelilawyer Leah Tsemel, who has extensive experience defending Palestiniandetainees. Despite the order preventing Ziyad access to a lawyer, Leah wasable to meet Ziyad on 5 June. She reported that he was in good health andhad not been subjected to ill-treatment or torture. Her office submitted anappeal for Ziyad's release, on the grounds that no charges had been broughtagainst him. While Leah was able to meet with Ziyad, two Al-Haq lawyers weresubsequently prevented from doing so, ostensibly because they were not hislegal representatives.The appeal for release was heard on 14 June, at Ofer military court. At thattime the prosecution submitted classified information, which Ziyad's counselwas not permitted to see. On the basis of that evidence the judge dismissedthe appeal and a hearing on the extension of Ziyad's detention, which wasdue to expire in two days, was scheduled for 16 June.Initially, Al-Haq was informed that Ziyad's detention had been extended fora six-month period by a military court on 16 June. However, Al-Haqsubsequently learnt that the Deputy Military Commander of the West Bank hadordered the extension, and that the order would be considered before amilitary court later in the month. The hearing on the order was held on 28 June and the order was confirmed.The judge stipulated that the time Ziyad had spent in detention should counttowards the six months of detention. That means Ziyad cannot expect to bereleased before 23 November of this year, and his detention may be extendedbeyond that date. On July 3rd, Ziyad was transferred to Ansar III prison. The prison, locatedin the Negev Desert, is little more than a series of tents in the middle ofthe desert, and is infamous for its poor conditions. Additionally, Ziyad's family has been unable to visit him. Initially, theywere denied permission. A visit was then scheduled for 13 July through theRed Cross, but it was cancelled in the wake of the Netanya bombing. Ziyad'sfamily has been informed that they will not be allowed to visit him beforeAugust.While an appeal will be launched against Ziyad's detention, it is unlikelythat the decision will be overturned. Ziyad, who is married and has twoyoung children, is the main source of support for his elderly parents andseveral of his siblings who are currently in school or university.No information on why Ziyad is being held has been released. Allinterrogations have focused on apolitical and non-security relatedquestions, and no charges have been brought against him.Further, the possessions Ziyad had with him at the time of his arrest havenot been given to him. When he was transferred from Moscobiyya, he askedabout his books and papers, but he was given only the money he had on him atthat time, and was told that the other items would be transferred to him.This has not happened to date.Under international human rights law, a detained person must be informedpromptly of the reasons for their detention, and administrative detentionmust be of a short duration only, not for an indefinite period. Further,under international humanitarian law, the right to a fair trial isguaranteed and the principle that no one may be convicted or sentenced,except pursuant to a fair trial offering all essential guarantees has beendeemed customary by the International Committee of the Red Cross.Ziyad's situation is not unique. Addameer, a Palestinian prisoners supportand human rights organisation, estimated that at the end of 2004 there wereover 850 Palestinian administrative detainees in Israeli prisons. Further,Israel's widespread and sustained policy of administrative detention issupported by both the government and the judiciary, denying Palestiniandetainees any meaningful protection of their rights.Al-Haq believes that the Israeli policy of administrative detention violatesinternational human rights and humanitarian law. In the absence of clearcharges being brought against Ziyad Hmeidan and provision of a fair trial,we demand his immediate and unconditional release.Relevant Al-Haq Material <> Al-Haq Demands the Immediate Release of Fieldworker ZiyadHmeidan (press release 16 June 2005) <> Open Letter to Hina Jilani, Special Represtentative to theSecretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders (26 July 2005)

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