UN Committee expresses grave concern at conditions Palestinian prisoners

The Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People issued the following statement concerning the hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention facilities on 24 August:

At its meeting on 24 August 2004, the Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People expressed grave concern at the systematic violation of the rights of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, detention and interrogation centres, and is alarmed at the growing number of prisoners who are on an open-ended hunger strike. Over 3,000 Palestinian prisoners, including hundreds of ailing prisoners, are now on the hunger strike, which is in its tenth day.

More than 7,000 Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, were held in detention by Israeli army or police for political reasons. This includes well over 300 child detainees and over 100 women. The prisoners are routinely subjected to inhumane conditions of incarceration, including arbitrary and indiscriminate beatings, humiliating strip searches, solitary confinement for excessive periods of time, and severe restrictions on family visits. The Bureau is particularly distressed by reports of continued use of torture and other forms of ill-treatment of the detainees.

On many occasions, the Committee has drawn the world community’s attention to this important issue, which to this day remains unresolved in spite of a broad international criticism of the Israeli practices. The Committee has repeatedly called upon Israel to abide by its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention and find a solution to the issue of Palestinian prisoners. The Bureau urges the Government of Israel to heed the strikers’ demands and ensure that the detainees, including women and children, are treated in a humane manner, that proper detention conditions are immediately established and basic human rights restored.

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