Expert meeting on the legal status of Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli Jails.

Ref: 46/2000

Date: 18th April, 2000

This morning, Tuesday the 18th of April, 2000, an expert meeting is taking place concerning the legal status of the Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli Jails. The meeting was organized by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR). In his introduction, the director of PCHR, Raji Sourani, emphasized that the meeting is part of the activities organized in co-operation with the Ministry of Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Affairs and the Association of Prisoners and Ex-prisoners (HUSAM) on the anniversary of the Palestinian Prisoners Day, which was yesterday, the 17th of April.

In his introduction Hisham Abed El Razq, Minister of Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Affairs, asserted that “ we believe that the cause of the prisoners should not be eferred to the final status agreements, but be solved immediately”. He added that “ this is the last chance to make a proper schedule for the release of the prisoners, instead of relying on the good-will of the Israeli government”

The meeting is attended by a number of international, Arab, and Palestinian experts, who will use the following two days to investigate important issues concerning the legal status of prisoners.

Amongst these issues are arbitrary and administrative detentions, the Lebanese and Palestinian detainees used as hostages by the Israeli authorities, and the detainees in the El Khiam prison in Occupied South Lebanon. .Moreover, the experts will discuss the Israel High Court decision of last September concerning torture. This decision

held that the interrogation methods used by the Israeli General Security Agents against the Palestinian prisoners were illegal.

Nonetheless, the decision invited the Israeli legislators to pass a law in order to enable the GSS to use such methods.

Moreover, the experts will discuss the conditions of the Palestinian and Arabs prisoners in Israeli Jails, including their heath conditions, the right to receive the necessary medical care, and the right to receive visits from relatives. The experts will make use of comparative case studies relevant to the Palestinian prisoners case and their conditions under the interim agreements – such as South Africa and Northern Ireland.

The meeting will conclude tomorrow afternoon by issuing recommendations. This will be circulated locally and internationally, particularly to the High Contracting Parties of the Forth Geneva Convention of 1949 concerning the protection of civilians during time of war, in addition to the concerned parties of the peace process, and international organizations. Also, the recommendations will be forwarded to the Palestinian leadership, Palestinian political parties, and NGOs.