Salwa Salah and Sara Siureh were both arrested from their homes in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on 5 June 2008. This is the first time that girls under the age of 18 have been put in administrative detention. On 12 June 2008 they were issued with military administrative detention orders. The orders had been set for four months (Salwa) and five months (Sara). A military court confirmed the orders on 18 June. An appeal hearing also confirmed the orders on 16 July although Sara’s sentence was reduced from five to four months.
They were due to be released on 4 October 2008. However, on 5 October both girls were issued with a second administrative detention order. On 6 October a judicial review of the administrative detention order took place. The military judge, Eyal Noon, upheld the order for a further three months from until 3 January 2009. The military judge claims the girls are still “dangerous” despite the fact that the military prosecutor has provided no information since the girls were arrested. Both girls are now in Addamoun prison in Israel and are being held with Palestinian adult female detainees. They have now spent more than four months in Israeli prisons, being held without charge or trial. Administrative detention orders can be renewed indefinitely.
Salwa Salah was born on the 10 November 1991. On Thursday, 5 June 2008 at around 2am, Salwa Salah, 16 years old, was sitting with her family in their home in Bethlehem. The family suddenly heard a loud banging on the door. Salwa’s mother opened the door and was faced with soldiers and the Israeli Security Agency (ISA). A female soldier was present and told Salwa to get dressed. Meanwhile the other soldiers interrogated Salwa’s mother and questioned her about her husband, son and daughter. After finishing interrogating Salwa and her mother, the female soldier handcuffed Salwa’s hands, blindfolded her and forcefully took her to the military jeep.
Sara Siureh was born on the 20 November 1991. On Thursday 5 June 2008, at around 1:30am Sara Siureh, 16 years old, was in her house with her husband in their family home in Bethlehem. They were suddenly startled to hear a loud banging on the door. Sara’s husband opened the door and was confronted with soldiers and the ISA. They stormed into the house and a female soldier shouted at Sara to get dressed. Sara was dragged out to the military jeep.
Both girls are cousins and Salwa is in her final year at high school. She is due to take her university entrance exam this year. However, the school year has already begun in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, she may have to repeat another year upon her release.
Following their arrest, Salwa and Sara were taken briefly to Telmond Prison and then to Ofer Prison where they were interrogated for one hour. During the interrogation, they were allegedly asked about what they were doing and if they had any relations with any political group. The girls did not confess to anything. After one hour the girls were taken back to Telmond prison where they spent a couple of days. They were then taken to Addamoun prison.
Since their arrest, Salwa and Sara have been subjected to several violations of their human rights. In addition to the excessive use of force during the arrests, the girls also reported that during a transfer from Addamoun to al-Ramle prison on 15 July, they suffered extremely abusive behavior from the female police officer escorting them. In particular, the officer pushed them forcefully with her hands and shouted at them. When they arrived at Ramle prison, according to the existing procedure, Salwa and Sara were searched: they were asked to strip totally naked while a female officer searched their hair, body and mouth with gloves. They felt the search was humiliating. Moreover, from the date of their arrest to 21 July, none of the girls had been allowed any contact with their families. In the meantime they at least had the opportunity to meet and speak with their lawyer provided by Addameer.
Addameer expresses its deep concern about the situation of Salwa Salah and Sara Siureh and, in particular, the fact that their administrative detention does not respect international human rights standards. Neither Salwa nor Sara have been informed of any charges against them, nor the reason for their arrest and detention, thereby violating fundamental due process and rendering their detention illegal and arbitrary under international law. The twin principles of proportionality and the duty on a state to take into consideration the child’s well being underline much of the detail found in international law concerning the aims, restrictions and prohibitions on the sentencing of children. The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice requires that any reaction to the juvenile offenders should “always be in proportion to the circumstances of both the offenders and the offense.”
Another fundamental principle of sentencing is that the deprivation of liberty, if used at all, should only be used as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time (Art. 37 (b), CRC). Clearly this is not the case for these two young girls. The Court did not abide by these legal standards laid out for all detained minors. This is the first time that both girls have been in prison. Currently, there are approximately 750 Palestinians now in administrative detention. Of these there are approximately 13 Palestinians under the age of 18 years old.
Act now to support Salwa and Sarah:
Register your outrage to imprisonment without trial. Please write to the Israeli government, military and legal authorities demanding: the immediate release of all administrative detainees in the absence of valid legal charges, or, if such charges exist, bring them before an impartial, independent, competent and fair tribunal and guarantee their procedural rights at all times.
In particular letters should be addressed to:
Major General Gadi Shamni
Military Mail 02367
Mr. Daniel Friedmann
Minister of Justice
Fax: + 972 2 628 7757; + 972 2 628 8618
Mr. Menachem Mazuz
Fax: + 972 2 627 4481; + 972 2 628 5438; +972 2 530 3367
Mr. Ehud Barak
Minister of Defense
Fax: +972 3 697 6218
Please write to the International Bar Association (IBA), asking its members and Human Rights Institute to put pressure on the Israeli Bar Association to ensure that all subjects under Israeli jurisdiction be granted the basic principles of rule of law — transparent processes which do not allow for arbitrary justice or governance — to which the IBA’s Human Rights Institute (HRI) claims to be dedicated to: “The HRI is now a leading voice in the promotion of the rule of law worldwide.”
Please send your letters of concern to the Director of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association, Fiona Paterson, and copy it the Chairs of the Council, Ambassador Emilio Cardenas (Argentina) and Justice Richard Goldstone (South Africa).
Director of Human Rights Institute
International Bar Association
London, W1T 1AT
Tel: +44 (0)20 7691 6868
Fax: +44 (0)20 7691 6544
Please also write to the European Union urging the EU to pressure Israel to release or charge all prisoners in Administrative Detention and to put an end to such an unjust, arbitrary and barbaric system of incarceration without trial.
Send your letters of appeal to:
Personal Representative for Human Rights (CFSP) of the EU Secretary General/
High Representative Javier Solana
Ms. Riina Kionka
175 Rue de la Loi BE 1048 Brussels, Belgium
Fax. : +32 2 281 61 90
Email : email@example.com
The Commissioner for External Affairs and European Neighbourhood Policy
Ms. Benita Ferrero- Waldner
Or send a comment via ec.europa.eu/external_relations/feedback/question2.htm
Israeli Embassies and Consulates in your own country
A directory of Israeli embassies can be found on the website of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. To access it, please go to the following link: http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Sherut/IsraeliAbroad/Continents/
Kindly inform us of any action taken by copying Addameer at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can keep track of the letters of support.