Representing Arab Political Prisoner Seeking Conjugal Rights to Father a Child, like Jewish Israeli Prisoners such as Former Primer Minister Yitzhak Rabin's Assassin, Yigal Amir

Nazareth District Court, Prisoner's Petition 609/08 Walid Daka v. the Israel Prison Service

On 27 July 2008, Adalah petitioned the Nazareth District Court on behalf of the Mr. Walid Daka, a Palestinian Arab citizen of Israel and a political prisoner, seeking conjugal rights in order to allow him to father a child. Mr. Daka has been incarcerated since he was 25-years old and he has no children. He is sentenced to life in prison and is classified as a "security prisoner". Adalah Attorney Abeer Baker filed the petition and represents Mr. Daka.

Israeli Jewish prisoners classified as "security prisoners" are permitted to exercise numerous rights, including conjugal visits, despite their security classification in prison. This is true, for example, in regard to the prisoner Yigal Amir, who was convicted of murdering Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin for ideological reasons and has since fathered a son. Similarly, the Jewish Israeli prisoner Ami Popper, who was convicted in 1990 of murdering seven Palestinian laborers and wounding 11 others, got married in prison in 1993, fathered his first child who was born in 1995. Since then, he has fathered another two children. "The discrimination in regard to conjugal visits is one more in a long series of distinctions between Arab and Jewish prisoners, citizens of the state, which give preference to the Jewish prisoners," the petition argued.

Mr. Daka was born in 1961. He was a resident of Baqa al-Gharbiya, an Arab town in the central Triangle region of Israel. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1986 for membership in a cell that kidnapped and murdered an Israeli soldier and is classified as a "security prisoner" by the Israel Prison Service (IPS). In 1999, he married a human rights activist who worked to promote the rights of prisoners, but he was refused any conjugal visits with his wife because the IPS claimed that his security classification prevents him from exercising this right.

Mr. Daka has been fighting for five years for the right to bring a child into the world. In a letter written by Mr. Daka to Attorney Baker in May 2008, Mr. Daka emphasized that time is not working in his favor, that he does not foresee any chance of his release, and that he and his wife are getting older. As Mr. Daka wrote in the letter:

"We will call him (or her) 'Milad' (Birth); it is the birth of life, or perhaps our rebirth into life … or perhaps the realization of a dream that has nested within us, Sana and me, and we have discussed it a lot. I have even taken a step that is a bit hallucinatory and crazy: At some point during my term of imprisonment, I began to write letters to him through which I wanted to document for him the memory of the love, my love and my burning longings for him." 

The classification of a prisoner as a "security prisoner" is determined by the IPS when he enters the prison and remains with him until the day of his release, if he is released. Attorney Baker emphasized in the petition that this classification is an administrative and static definition, and to regard it as an exclusive compass for determining the rights and dangerousness of the prisoner without examining each prisoner individually is to ignore the human being, the individual, and this can only be interpreted as the dehumanization of the prisoner.

The petition also notes that as time goes by there is less chance of Mr. Daka's wife becoming pregnant. His wife is 38 and Mr. Daka recently turned 46. "The failure to provide an opportunity for conjugal visits with his wife means denying his right to ever father children," Attorney Baker argued.

Citation: Prisoners' Petition 609/08, Walid Daka v. the Israel Prison Service (Nazareth District Court)

The Petition (Hebrew)