Israel: Palestinian Women Subjected to Sexual Harassment and Abuse in Detention

SUMMARY

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) forwards the attached appeal from the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), regarding abuse and mistreatment of female prisoners in the Neve Tertze women's prison in Ramle, Israel.
24 Palestinian women are reportedly held in isolation and without adequate medical or psychological care, and are subjected to degrading and harassing body searches.

IGLHRC is gravely concerned by patterns of physical and sexual retaliation against political dissent. As IGLHRC has elsewhere stated, "When norms stipulating what human beings can do with their bodies are violated, the retaliation is particularly likely to be in bodily terms." (See IGLHRC's 2001 report on torture and sexual minorities, at http://www.iglhrc.org/issues/UN/UN_Torture2001Jun.html.) IGLHRC urges support for all detainees threatened by sexual harassment and abuse.

For more information, see http://www.omct.org.

FOWARDED ACTION

Case ISR 200602 VAW/CC VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN/CHILD CONCERN Inhuman and degrading treatment, sexual harassment by Israeli Guards The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Israel.

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by LAW (the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment), a member of the OMCT network, that Palestinian female political prisoners have been sexually harassed by Israeli guards in the Neve Tertze women's prison in Ramle. According to the information received, their conditions have dramatically worsened over the past few months. Amna Musa, a representative for the Palestinian female prisoners told LAW's attorney Fahmi Shkirat that they will start a hunger strike if their conditions are not improved.

There are 24 Palestinian female political prisoners in Ramle prison, including seven under the age of 18. They are held in four cells. One of the female prisoners, Intissar Ajouri, is being held in solitary confinement. She has been sentenced to six months administrative detention. The female prisoners are isolated and deprived of communication with their families.

The female prisoners complain about degrading body searches. They have been forced to take off all their clothes, while some of the prison guards have touched their bodies in a degrading and insulting way. When a Palestinian female prisoner resists the degrading search, she is forced to undress after being handcuffed. Sometimes she will be threatened that she will be forced to undress by other guards.

The UN Human Rights Committee, which is set up to monitor the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Israel is a State party, has stated in its General Comment 16 on article 17 of the Covenant: ?So far as personal and body searches are concerned, effective measures should ensure that such searches are carried out in a manner consistent with the dignity of the person who is being searched. Persons being subjected to body searches by State officials, or medical personnel acting at the request of the State, should only be examined by persons of the same sex.

According to the information received, the female prisoners were not allowed to sit for their high school examinations, even though the Israeli Supreme Court recently said that detained Palestinian high school students should be allowed to sit for their final exams.

Moreover, Palestinian female political prisoners do not have adequate access to medical care. Some of the Palestinian female political prisoners suffer from physical and psychological problems. One of the female prisoners, Ahlam Al-Tamimi suffers kidney stones and needs urgent treatment. The recess time of Palestinian female prisoners has been reduced to three hours a day and on Saturday the recess time is only two hours. During the recess time, Palestinian female prisoners are insulted and beaten by Israeli criminal prisoners. The Israeli prison authority has not taken any measures to prevent these assaults.

OMCT would like to reiterate the concern that it has previously expressed in relation to the ill-treatment and torture that women and girls are subjected to in the Ramle prison as well the generally bad conditions for Palestinian women and girls detained in the Ramle prison and urges the authorities to ensure that the physical and psychological integrity of all the detainees is respected and protected (See also OMCT's urgent appeals ISR 240901 VAW/CC and 111001 and their follow-ups.)

OMCT also recalls that as a State party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Israel is bound to comply with the articles contained therein. Article 37 (a) of the CRC provides that "No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." Article 37 (c) of the Convention states that "Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age and shall have the right to maintain contact with his or her family through correspondence and visits."

ACTION

Action requested:

Please write to the Israeli authorities urging them to:

  1. guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of the female prisoners in Neve Tertze prison in Ramle at all times and ensure their access to medical care;
  2. carry out a full and impartial investigation into the alleged torture and ill-treatment, in order to identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions provided by law in accordance with international legal standards;
  3. ensure that immediate action is taken to guarantee that the conditions in Neve Tertze prison in Ramle meet minimum international standards;
  4. guarantee all human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with to the international human rights standards and in particular the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Addresses:

Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister,
Office of the Prime Minister, 3 Kaplan Street, Jerusalem 91007, Israel. Fax:(+ 972 2)566 48 38 / 691 79 15 E-mail: pm@pmo.gov.il or feedback@pmo.gov.il
Meir Shitrit, Minister of Justice,
Ministry of Justice, 29 Salah al-Din Street, Jerusalem 91029, State of Israel. Fax:(+ 972 2) 62 8 54 38 or Fax: ++ 972 2 628 8618 Email: sar@justice.gov.il
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Minister of Defense,
Ministry of Defense, 7 "A" Street, Hakirya, Tel Aviv, Israel. Fax:(+972-3)691 69 40, e-mail: sar@mod.gov.il
Eli Yishai, Minister of the Interior,
Ministry of the Interior, Fax: 00972 2 670 1411 Email: sar@moin.gov.il
Minister of Police, Ministry of Police,
PO Box 18182, 3 Sheikh Jarrah, Kiryat Hamemshala, Jerusalem 91181, State of Israel. Fax:(+ 972 2)582 67 69
Shimon Peres, Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fax:(+ 972 2) 530 3704 E-mail: sar@mofa.gov.il
The Supreme Court of Justice,
Kiryat Ben Gurion, Jerusalem, Israel. Fax: (+ 972 2) 652 71 18
Uzi Landau, Minister of Internal Security,
Ministry of Internal Security P.O Box 18182, 3 Sheirkh Jarrah, Kiryat Hamemshala
jerusalem, 91181, Israel. Fax: (+ 972 2) 582 67 69, E-mail :sar@mops.gov.il
Director of Neve Tertze Prison,
P.O. Box 229, Ramle 72101, Israel, fax: 00972 8 9776652:

Please also write to the embassies of Israel in your respective country.

OMCT Geneva, 20 June 2002

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