Appeal Demanding Removal of Palestinian Leader from Solitary Confinement and Canceling the Ban on Right to Visitors, and Canceling Orders of the IPS that Placed Restrictions on his Freedom of Expression

Beer el-Sebe District Court 2772/02 Marwan Bargouty v. Israel Prison Service

The Tel Aviv District Court decided to continue the hearing, begun today, on Adalah's petition to release Marwan Barghouti from solitary confinement. Judge David Bar-Ophir, the Deputy President of the Tel Aviv District Court, set a second hearing for tomorrow, Monday 9 December 2002, at 2:30 p.m.

The petition, submitted by Adalah Staff Attorney Abeer Baker on 6 December 2002, challenged the Prisons Authority's decision to place Marwan Barghouti in solitary confinement for five days on the grounds that he violated the internal orders of the prison that prohibit prisoners from giving any interviews to the media. On 4 December 2002, the Associated Press published an interview with Marwan Barghouti, through one of his lawyers, Khader Shkirat.

At the hearing today:

  1. The Court decided that it will hear arguments tomorrow concerning the legality of the Prisons Authority's internal orders that prohibit prisoners from giving interviews to the media. In the petition, Adalah argued that these internal orders should be voided, as they are not based on any existing law or statute, and thus, the Prisons Authority lacks power to promulgate them. In addition, the scope of these internal orders is sweeping and overbroad, and severely violates prisoners' constitutional rights of freedom of expression. Further, the statements and viewpoint expressed by Marwan Barghouti in the interview are completely unrelated to maintaining order and security in the prison itself. It is only in this area that the Prisons Authority may exercise its power to discipline. In deciding to hold this hearing, the Court recognized that the petition raised important constitutional issues relating to prisoners' freedom of expression.

  2. The Court ordered the Prisons Authority to reply in writing to Adalah's petition by the end of the day. The Prisons Authority had informed the Court that it was not prepared to argue the case before the Court today.

  3. The Court rejected Adalah's oral motion to immediately release Marwan Barghouti from solitary confinement. Adalah argued that this remedy was required as the Court's delay in hearing the case effectively mooted the issue of Marwan Barghouti's solitary confinement in this instance. Tomorrow marks Marwan Barghouti's fifth day in isolation.

  4. The Court also rejected Adalah's request to bring Marwan Barghouti to Court for the hearing. Adalah argued that it is the right of prisoners to be present at their court hearings. The Court stated that it is standard practice to hold hearings on prisoners' petitions without the presence of the prisoner. The Court also emphasized that extensive security arrangements would be required to bring Marwan Barghouti before the Court, and that no damage would occur if the hearing were held only with his lawyers.

See also, Adalah's Press Release, "Tel Aviv District Court to Hear Adalah's Petition Seeking Marwan Barghouti's Release from Solitary Confinement, " 6 December 2002.