The Israeli Supreme Court approves order denying Palestinian detainee access to legal representation

In another instance of the Israeli General Security Service (GSS) and the Israeli Supreme Court’s involvement in violations of the rights of Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected a request submitted by PCHR to cancel an order that has denied a Palestinian detainee access to his lawyer.  PCHR is concerned that the detainee, Mohammed Rajab Mohammed Timraz, 33, from Deir al-Balah, may have been subjected to torture by the GSS interrogators. 

Timraz was arrested by Israeli occupying forces on 17 July 2003, while he was on his way back into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah Terminal, on the border with Egypt. He was sent to Ashkelon Prison for interrogation and has subsequently been denied access to a PCHR nominated lawyer by the GSS

After the Israeli prosecutor representing the GSS rejected two appeals submitted by PCHR against the order, PCHR submitted a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court in an attempt to allow Timraz access to his lawyer.  However, in a session held on 14 August 2003, the court upheld the Israeli prosecutor’s position that meetings between Timraz and his lawyer may affect the interrogation process.  The court went even further and authorized the GSS to renew the order if it was deemed necessary.  The order is due to expire on Thursday, 22 August 2003, but it is unclear whether it will be renewed. 

Since the beginning of Al Aqsa Intifada, Israeli occupying forces have intensified their appalling treatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Many Palestinian detainees have been denied access to legal representation without the prior approval of the Israeli Supreme Court and as a consequence prisoners have been vulnerable to aggressive measures, including torture, by GSS interrogators. 

PCHR condemns the continued detention of Timraz and the denial of his right to legal representation, in violation of international humanitarian law and other instruments relevant to the treatment of prisoners.  PCHR expresses grave concerns for the Israeli Supreme Court’s position, which further proves its collusion in providing legal coverage for aggressive GSS practices.  PCHR is also concerned that Timraz may have been subjected to psychological or physical pressure to extract a confession.  In light of the above, PCHR calls upon international organizations and relevant bodies to intervene and put an end to Israeli violations of the rights of Palestinian prisoners detained in Israeli jails.