2 May 2002

Adalah Files Pre-Petition in Opposition to
Inhumane Treatment of Detainees in Ansar III Detention Center

On 29 April 2002, Adalah submitted a pre-petition to the office of the Attorney General demanding that he address the inhumane conditions of Ansar III Detention Center ("Ketziot"). The conditions in Ansar III fail to meet even the most basic human rights standards for detention: detainees are denied clean food and water, medical treatment, adequate bathroom facilities, contact with their families, and other basic services. Such treatment violates international and Israeli law, as well as previous rulings of the Israeli Supreme Court. The pre-petition was submitted by Adalah Staff Attorney Morad El-Sana.

On 13 April 2002, Mr. El-Sana and Attorney Tamar Peleg from HaMoked: The Center for the Defense of the Individual, met with several detainees who were on their way to a military court in the Gaza Strip. The detainees were part of a group of 56 individuals who had been moved to Ansar III from Megiddo prison on 11 April 2002. In the course of their meeting the attorneys obtained two affidavits from the detainees concerning the conditions in the center. On 23 April 2002, Mr. El-Sana and Ms. Peleg joined Attorney Tarek Ibrahim from HaMoked, Attorney Manal Hassan from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and two attorneys volunteering for Adalah, Ra'ed el-Abra and Ziad Assana, in a visit to Ansar III. The group spoke with several more detainees and witnessed the conditions in the center first hand.

In the pre-petition, Adalah raised grave concerns about the conditions in Ansar III including:
  • Inhumane detention conditions: The detention center is grossly overcrowded and rife with unhygienic conditions that risk the detainees' health at the same time that it denies them the basic right of human dignity.

    20 detainees share a 4 x 12 meter tent made of black plastic that is too hot during the day and too cold at night. The tents easily tear and the entryways cannot be closed in times of inclement weather. Detainees sleep on wooden boards that are low to the ground with very few mattresses, blankets or pillows, which do not provide adequate warmth or comfort during the night. During the night, the lights around the tents are never turned off. Consequently, the detainees suffer back pains and sleep detriment.

    Each tent has a single toiler facility made of concrete that also functions as a shower. Detainees are not given cleaning supplies and the water flow does not adequately clean the toilets after usage. In addition, vermin and insects are a constant presence in the bathroom and shower facilities, further threatening the health of the detainees and disturbing them psychologically.

    Since the detainees were arrested without warning, many detainees do not have a change of clothes or basic hygienic supplies. Consequently, they have been unable to clean themselves for several weeks.

    In addition, the center lacks adequate lighting, as very little electricity is allotted to the detainees. Consequently, the detainees can neither read nor write after sundown, and the voltage is too weak for the use of television.

  • Insufficient food and water: The detainees receive inadequate amounts of food and water that is frequently unfit for consumption. The meals offered to the detainees come in small portions without variation from day to day. The food often sits in the sun for extended periods of time and arrives spoiled. While doctors recommend that an adult consume at least 1,800 calories a day, the meals offered to the detainees amount to less than 1,000 calories a day. As a result, the detainees suffer from weight loss, digestive problems and other health risks.

    The drinking water provided for the detainees is also polluted, particularly the hot water used for making tea and coffee. Further, only one kilogram of sugar is allotted for every 56 detainees each day.

  • Poor medical treatment: The excessively poor hygienic conditions in the center pose series risks to the health of the detainees. Although the detainees have access to a medical doctor, they do not have full access to adequate medical treatment. In lieu of appropriate medication, the detainees typically receive painkillers, which do not address their ailments. Some detainees reported suffering severe pains for days before receiving access to medical personnel. Furthermore, there is no dentist in the center, and serious dental problems are treated with painkillers alone.

  • Denial of access to family or others: Since the detainees were arrested without being given any indication of their destination or the duration of their detention, many of their families have no way of knowing whether they are imprisoned, hospitalized or dead. The detainees are denied the use of telephones or any other means of contacting their families. Visits are also prohibited, and their families have no way of providing assistance or extra supplies to their relatives in detention.

    Detainees are further denied access to information from outside the center. They receive neither newspapers nor books and cannot watch television, thus denying them the right to information.

  • Cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment: Three times a day, the detainees must stand and be counted at the blow of a whistle. The soldiers force the detainees to stand on asphalt without shelter from the sun for 20-30 minutes. During the counting, the soldiers point their rifles at the detainees, thus placing them under constant fear of an accidental discharge. The authorities refused the request of the detainees to stand in the shade or to stand at attention without counting, as happens in Megiddo prison.
In the pre-petition, Adalah argued that the conditions present in Ansar III are unfit for human beings. They violate the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty as well as Article 76 of the Geneva Convention (IV) Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (1949). Further, the conditions in Ansar III fail to uphold the standards set out by the Supreme Court in Darweesh v. Prison Authority (1980), in which the Court held that the State must preserve the human dignity of those imprisoned. In the ruling, Judge Haim Cohen stated that a person who is sentenced to prison in Israel has the right "to be imprisoned in humanitarian, civilized conditions." Should the Attorney General's Office fail to respond to these complaints, Adalah will file a petition to the Supreme Court.

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