As Israel continues to attack Gaza, the Palestinian human rights defender Ayman Nasser remains in detention without charge in Jerusalem. Following 31 days of ongoing interrogation sessions, an Israeli military court has recently extended the interrogation period for yet another nine days. Nasser was previously imprisoned by Israel from 1992 to 1997.
The British-Danish security firm G4S is facilitating Israel’s detention of Palestinians without charge or trial. The company has provided security systems for Moskobiyyeh detention center, where Nasser is being held, according to the research project Who Profits?
Addameer, a prisoners’ rights organization has published the following information on the arrest and detention of its staff member Ayman Nasser. In the middle of the night on 15 October, a large number of Israeli soldiers with sniffer dogs raided Nasser’s home in Safa, near Ramallah. Two soldiers kept his wife in a separate room at gun point. Nasser’s computer and mobile phone were confiscated. The computers of his children were searched and some pieces were confiscated. Nasser was transferred from the occupied West Bank to Israel’s Moskobiyyeh detention center in Jerusalem.
At Moskobiyyeh (also known as the Russian Compound), Nasser has been subjected to lengthy stressful interrogation sessions which last up to 20 hours. The sessions are causing immense pain, due to Nasser’s pre-existing back problems. The pain further increases when interrogators shackle his hands behind his back.
In addition, Nasser’s medical treatment is insufficient because he has been receiving only two out of the five medications he needs daily. On 18 October, a judge referred the situation of the medicine to the doctor at Moskobiyyeh detention center. This referral is quite worrying as it has been well-documented by Addameer that the withholding of medication or medical treatment is systematically used by doctors in the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) in order to pressure prisoners into complying with IPS demands.
In an email message of 16 November, Addameer wrote:
As previously reported Ayman continues to be denied his medication that he needs for pre-existing health issues. Also, when not in interrogation Ayman continues to be held in isolation, in a windowless cell (1.5 meters by 2 meters), with a light continuously on and cold air continuously coming from the air condition.
Calls for release
As a staff member of Addameer, Nasser is engaged in defending Palestinian human rights particularly against torture, arbitrary imprisonment and detention. States have the responsibility to protect the rights of human rights campaigners such as Nasser, according to the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
The US National Lawyers Guild International Committee (NLG) has called for the immediate release of Ayman Nasser. In its letter, the NLG states that “Israel has a long record of persecution of Palestinian human rights defenders including arrests, detentions, travel bans and harassment.”
Front Line Defenders — a group based in Ireland which campaigns for the protection of human rights activists — has called several times on the Israeli authorities “to immediately and unconditionally release Ayman Nasser, as it is believed that he is being held solely as a result of his legitimate and peaceful work in the defense of human rights.”
Addameer has requested the UN special rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders to intervene with Israel and raise the case of Ayman Nasser and other Palestinian human rights defenders, including Addameer chairperson Abdullatif Ghaith.
The National Lawyers Guild wrote in its letter that Moskobiyyeh detention center in Jerusalem “is infamous among Palestinian prisoners and the source of numerous reports of torture and abuse,” referring to a report by rights organizations B’Tselem and Hamoked.
Who Profits? — a research project of the Tel Aviv-based Coalition of Women for Peace — published a report on G4S Israel in March 2011. According to this report, the technological department of G4S Israel signed a contract with the Israel Prison Authority (IPA) in July 2007, to provide security systems for the major IPA facilities. The company declared in its own publications that it provided systems for Moskobiyyeh detention center in Jerusalem. G4S installed:
computerized control and monitoring systems, entrance and visitation control systems, control rooms with touch screens, internal and external CCTV [closed circuit TV] monitoring and recording systems and optic fibre communication lines. The company also installed fire and smoke detection systems and metal detector gates in these prisons.
G4S’s provision of security equipment to Israeli prisons where Palestinian political prisoners are held is the main reason behind the call for action against G4S by many Palestinian organizations.