Protest the extended detention of rights defender Ameer Makhoul

Ameer Makhoul (Adri Nieuwhof)

In a hearing at Petach Tikva Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, 20 May 2010, a judge extended Ameer Makhoul’s detention for a third time until Tuesday, 25 May 2010. Mr. Makhoul, a human rights defender and the director of Arab nongovernmental organization network Ittijah, has been in Israeli detention since he was arrested from his family home in Haifa in the early morning hours of 6 May.

Dr. Omar Said’s detention was also extended at the Petach Tikva court on Thursday, set now to expire on Sunday, 23 May 2010. Dr. Said, a high-profile academic and social and political activist, was arrested by Israeli authorities on 24 April 2010 at the King Hussein Border Crossing while on his way to Jordan.

Mr. Makhoul spent the first 12 days following his arrest held in incommunicado detention, unable to contact his attorneys under a ban imposed by the Israeli Security Agency (ISA, or Shabak). On 17 May, Mr. Makhoul was finally permitted to meet with his defense team, including attorney Hussein Abu Hussein and Adalah lawyers Orna Kohn and Hassan Jabareen, before and after a prior extension of detention hearing. Mr. Makhoul met with his legal representatives again the following day.

After meeting with Mr. Makhoul, his attorneys reported that he appeared exhausted and had been subjected to intensive, around-the-clock interrogations. He also complained of pains and dizziness, and said that he had been visited by a prison doctor.

Although a gag order banning any publication inside Israel of Mr. Makhoul’s arrest or detention was partially lifted on 10 May, court-ordered restrictions remain in place, preventing his attorneys from disclosing any information at all on Mr. Makhoul’s legal case, ongoing interrogation or his health status and medical records. This order also prevents any news on Mr. Makhoul’s physical condition from reaching his family, who remain barred from visiting him.

Addameer remains extremely concerned that Mr. Makhoul is being subjected to torture and other unlawful means of interrogation by Israeli interrogators in violation of international law and Israeli Supreme Court jurisprudence. Furthermore, Addameer continues to condemn both his and Dr. Said’s arrests as arbitrary political actions in violation of fundamental due process principles and human rights standards. Addameer further submits that to keep any news of Mr. Makhoul’s health from his family constitutes an abhorrent abrogation of international and domestic law.

Addameer therefore urges foreign government officials, including members of foreign representative offices to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and foreign Consulates in Tel Aviv and East Jerusalem, as well as representatives of the European Commission and the European Parliament, human rights organizations and United Nations bodies to:

  • Raise Ameer Makhoul’s case in their official meetings with Israeli officials;
  • Demand clarifications regarding the reason for Mr. Makhoul’s arrest and extended detention in official letters addressed to Israeli authorities;
  • Demand Mr. Makhoul’s immediate release and the lifting of the travel ban against him;
  • Pressure Israel to put an end to its policy of arbitrary detention and deportation of human rights defenders; and,
  • Expand the military courts monitoring project to include monitoring of Israeli courts viewing cases of Palestinian citizens of Israel under political detention.

Addameer also urges the international community to take action to help Ameer Makhoul by:

  • Writing to the Israeli government, military and legal authorities and demand that:
    • Mr. Makhoul be released immediately, and the travel ban against him be lifted;
    • Israeli security authorities immediately cease their unlawful arrest and detention policies of Palestinian human rights defenders; and,
    • Israeli authorities end the practice of arbitrary detention, the use of “secret information,” and incommunicado detention.
  • Write to your own elected and diplomatic representatives urging them to pressure Israel to release Mr. Makhoul and to put an end to the ongoing harassment against Palestinian human rights defenders.
  • Write to the International Bar Association to protest Israel’s use of arbitrary detention and the use of “secret information” and incommunicado detentions: and,
  • Write to Baroness Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Vice President of the European Commission urging European intervention with Israel regarding political prosecutions inside Israel and current and pending legislation that outlaws human rights organizations.
  • Sign Addameer’s international petition condemning Mr. Makhoul’s arrest, detention and travel ban, and calling for his immediate, unconditional release.

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