Israeli Prisons Ordinance - Amendment No. 40 (Meetings with Lawyers)

Criminal Law and Procedures

Allows the Israel Prison Service (IPS) to prohibit prisoners involved in “security crimes” from meeting their lawyers if the IPS “suspects” that such meetings may lead to the transfer of information relating to a terror organization. The law targets and discriminates against “security prisoners”, who are overwhelmingly Palestinians, as well as their lawyers, who are also generally Palestinians. As of May 2012, there were over 4,600 Palestinian political prisoners being held as “security prisoners” in Israeli prisons.

Under the law, the IPS can prevent prisoners’ meetings with lawyers for 96 hours (previously 24 hours), a period that could be extended for up to as many as 14 days (previously 5 days) with the approval of the state prosecutor. A district court can extend this prohibition for six months (previously 21 days) and up to maximum period of one year (previously three months). The Supreme Court can extend the ban for unlimited periods after one year (Supreme Court supervision was required after three months under the previous law). These sweeping restrictions further increase prisoners’ isolation and prevent them from effectively accessing the courts and obtaining redress.

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