(Haifa, Israel) Today, 16 May 2010, the legal defense team of Ameer Makhoul declared that they would not participate in the detention hearing in the Petakh Tikvah Magistrate Court tomorrow, Monday 17 May, if the prohibition on meeting a lawyer is not lifted. Ameer Makhoul is represented by a legal defense team consisting of Attorney Hussein Abu Hussein and Adalah Attorneys Orna Kohn and Hassan Jabareen.
Ameer Makhoul, the Director of the Arab NGO network, “Ittijah”, and a human rights defender, was arrested at his home on 6 May 2010 in the middle the night. Since 6 May, there have been two detention hearings before the Petakh Tikvah court. At both of these hearings, the detention was extended without Mr. Makhoul having the right to meet his lawyers and without his presence at the hearings.
Since the arrest of Mr. Makhoul eleven days ago he has been prohibited from meeting a lawyer. The court has rejected all of the appeals against the prohibition on meeting a lawyer submitted by the legal defense team.
He was brought to the court but was not allowed to appear at his own hearings. Secret information was exchanged between the court and the General Security Services (GSS or Shabak) at the hearings. Questions were asked and notes passed between the court and the Shabak. No information was given to his lawyers about the substance of the investigation or his personal health condition or the conditions of his detention. All this information was classified. Thus the court has in effect only heard the side of the Shabak.
The legal defense team is convinced that under these circumstances, due to the total lack of respect for due process, the representation of Ameer Makhoul in the detention hearings has become meaningless.” In this instance, the legal system is a simply rubber stamp for the Shabak. It should be emphasized that the Supreme Court of Israel has never accepted an appeal against a ban on meeting with a lawyer.
Furthermore, as a result of Mr. Makhoul's classification as a “security detainee”, he is exposed to harsh conditions of confinement and continuous investigation by the Shabak. In addition to being barred from meeting with his lawyers, he is also unable to meet his family (his wife Janan and their two daughters), and has no right to make a telephone call or send a letter. In addition there is no video or audio recording or full written record of the investigations to which he has been subjected over the last eleven days. These conditions, his almost complete isolation for the outside world and the violation of his right to due process are all conducive to torture and/or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
In this regard, the UN Committee Against Torture, in its Concluding Observations on Israel in 2009 (para. 15), emphasized that, “detainees should have prompt access to a lawyer, an independent doctor and family member, these are important means for the protection of suspects, offering added safeguards against torture and ill-treatment for detainees, and should be guaranteed to persons accused of security offenses.” The UN Human Rights Committee, in its Concluding Observations on Israel from 2003 (para. 13), stated that it was, “concerned that the use of prolonged detention without any access to a lawyer or other persons of the outside word violates articles of the Covenant [ICCPR] (arts. 7, 9, 10 and 14, para. 3 (b)” ... and that Israel, “should ensure that no one is held for more than 48 hours without access to a lawyer.”
If the prohibition order on meeting with a lawyer will continue to be valid tomorrow morning, the legal team will submit a motion to the court in Petakh Tikvah asking it to inform Ameer Makhoul of their decision not to participate in the detention hearing. At the moment the prohibition order is lifted, the legal defense team will enter the courtroom and provide full representation to Mr. Makhoul.
For more information on the cases, see: