The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
(PCHR) denounces the degrading search by anti-drug police of a lawyer in
Bethlehem in presence of a member of the Public Prosecution. PCHR calls upon the Attorney General and the government
in Ramallah to respect and protect the human dignity.
According to investigations conducted by
PCHR and testimony of the victim, on Tuesday, 22 June 2013, the aforementioned
lawyer was stopped while driving his car with the company of a friend at a
security checkpoint on Bethlehem-Jericho road.
An anti-drug force arrived, searched the lawyer and his car and took him
to the police station, where he was searched again and the made to strip for
further searching. The lawyer said:
"I was stopped at a checkpoint and my car
was searched. I was then taken to the
police station, where a captain ordered me to take my pants off. I told him that I had been searched and I
would not take my clothes off. As a
result, he threatened me that he would forcibly take my clothes off. While debating, he said that there was a
complaint against me that I had marijuana with me. I told him that I need a representative from
the Bar Association or public prosecution.
He said that they would bring Mr. Yehya Adawi. Prosecutor Adawi came and I tried to convince
him that the complaint was not true and I carried no drugs. The captain in return convinced Adawi that
they had information about me carrying drugs.
The captain and Adawi went out to discuss the issue and returned. Adawi told me that I should be thoroughly
searched and take all of my clothes off.
I requested him to refer me to forensic medical examination, but he
confirmed that he had been practicing his authority and that was part of routine
practices. I had my underwear taken off
by an officer of the anti-drug police, who ordered me then to sit down and
stand up thrice. The search was over, and they found nothing."
It should be noted that the Bar
Association denounced the incident in a press release on 13 June 2013. It pointed out that the degrading treatment
the lawyer received undermines the human dignity and the legal profession. The Bar Association called for prosecuting
all those responsible for what had happened.
PCHR emphasises that searching and
interrogating the lawyer is unacceptable unless by the knowledge and presence
of the president of the Bar Association or whoever represents him according to
article (20-d and e) of the Legal Profession Act 1999. In addition, PCHR emphasizes that the police have
the right to search under a permit from the prosecution, but this right should
not be abused in a manner that humiliates a person’s dignity or violates the
civilians’ privacy. The naked search is degrading and must not be resorted to,
because it violates the international standards and conventions. In light of this, PCHR:
1- Calls upon the Attorney General to
immediately investigate the incident, publish the results and prosecute the persons
involved in it;
2- Calls upon the Attorney General to issue
instructions to completely ban the naked search;
3- Calls upon the Attorney General to respect
the Legal Profession Act 1999, especially measures related to treating lawyers,
because respecting lawyers and their profession constitutes an essential guarantee
for the right of defense and to not allow any retaliatory acts against lawyers
due to practicing their work; and
4- Highlights the victim’s right to resort to the
judiciary to seek compensation for the psychological damage.