On Wednesday, 20 June 2018, Ayman al-Batniji, Spokesperson of the Palestinian Police in Gaza, declared the death of detainee (W. D.) (30) in a cell in Rafah Police Station in the southern Gaza Strip, after hanging himself. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) calls upon the Attorney General to investigate the incident circumstances and publish the results in public. PCHR also calls for establishing an independent Commission of inquiry to investigate the appropriateness of detention conditions in facilities, especially those belonging to the Criminal Investigations, and if they meet the generally recognized international standards of detention, mainly the 1977 United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.
According to information obtained by PCHR from the victim’s family, (W. D.) had been detained in Rafah police station on grounds of drug dealing since 17 June 2018. On 20 June 2018, he appeared before the Magistrate’s Court, which decided to release him. However, (W. D) was returned to Rafah Police Station on grounds of another case in the northern Gaza police station. The victim’s brother (M. D) said that his brother was temporarily detained in Rafah police detention facility until the northern Gaza police received him.
(M. D) added that “ At approximately 17:00, I received a phone call from my neighbor H. Sh. H. (26), telling me that my brother (W) was sick and taken to the hospital. H. arrived at my house and took me to Abu Yousef al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, where I was surprised to find my brother dead and inside the morgue. I did not see him, but my brother (GH) did in presence of the police and prosecution. He confirmed that there were bruises and abrasions in his forehead and right leg while his back was black…”
- Sh. H., the victim’s friend, said that he along with 2 other friends visited (W. D.) yesterday in Rafah police station. He said “when we arrived at the police station, we knew that he was detained in the Intelligence Service facility near the police station. We headed to there and stood in the corridor. Meanwhile, a policeman went to open the door of a room, where (W. D.) was detained. The policeman then ran out of the room shouting: he hanged himself. My friends, the intelligence officers and I ran towards the room and saw (W.) semi-sitting (his backside was around 20 centimeters off the floor while his feet were on the floor, his left hand beside him and his right hand and leg high up. There was a yellow cord-like object seemingly a shoelace around his neck tied to the room window guard, which are around 1 meter off the ground. We tried to cut the cord, but we could not. One of us called the medical services and only a minute after, paramedics arrived and tried to cut the cord, which I then managed to cut. We immediately took him to the Abu Yousif al-Najjar Hospital by an ambulance… Doctors attempted to resuscitate him but in vain. At approximately 17:00, his death was declared. I noticed an abrasion in his forehead and right leg while his back was blue with strips’ marks on his hands and feet…”
In light of the above, PCHR calls upon the Attorney General and the Ministry of Interior to open a serious investigation into the death circumstances of W.D. and declare the results in public.
PCHR highlights that life of persons detained in prisons and detention facilities falls within the responsibilities of the Ministry of Interior and Prison Service according to the Reform and Rehabilitation Centers Law No. 6/1998 as Article 7 of it stipulates that “…Inmates in any prison remain under the legal guardianship of the prison director….” Thus, PCHR demands the investigation should include negligence that probably led to the death or crime.
PCHR calls for forming an independent commission to investigate to what extent detention conditions at prisons of Criminal Investigation and Internal Security Services are appropriate and meet with the international standards of and detention, especially the 1977 UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.