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Israel: Human Rights Defender and Journalist Administratively Detained

    Thursday, July 7, 2016 - 14:09
    Hasan Safadi being transferred from prison to Magistrate Court in Jerusalem.
    Photo Credit: 
    08 May 2016. Addameer

    by Jim Joyce, AICS(ES) Israel, Occupied Territories, Palestine Coordinator

    Hassan Safadi, a Palestinian journalist and Media Coordinator for Addameer, a prisoners’ rights organization, was detained returning from Jordan at the Karameh bridge crossing into the Occupied Palestinian Territory on 01 May by Israeli authorities. 

    He was taken to the Moscobiyyah Police Detention Center in Jerusalem and interrogated.  This interrogation continued after he was transferred to Kitziot Prison in the Negev southern Israel.  He told his lawyer he was subjected to sleep deprivation and tied into stress positions during those interrogation sessions.  Such treatment violates the prohibition under international law of torture and other ill-treatment.  For a period between 12 and 22 May he was denied access to his lawyer.

    His sister reported that IDF personnel came to their home and took away any papers “that had Hasan’s name.”  They also carried away books that were inscribed with his name.

    After forty days of imprisonment, on June 10 in Jerusalem Magistrates Court he was charged with visiting an “enemy” country.  [Hassan had made previous journeys to Jordan and returned without incident.  As a journalist, he had filed stories and his photos with a Lebanese newspaper.]  The judge ordered his release upon posting bail.  His parents were waiting for him after paying the bail.  However he was not released.

    Instead, under an administrative detention order signed by the Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and confirmed by the court on 28 June, he was returned to Kitziot prison to serve the six month administration detention.

    More Background and Other Concerns

    In the past six months, Israel had imprisoned eighteen other journalists and restricted the travel arrangements of others.

    Another journalist detained and held under administrative detention is Omar Nazzal, aged 54.  He is a member of the general secretariat of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate.  In March 2015, he detained after returning from attending a conference of the European Federation of Journalist held this year in Bosnia.  He had been imprisoned before when a younger man, and since his release from that period of administrative detention, he has been subject to a two-year travel ban.

    Israel’s Prime Minister while in Germany claimed that his country does not arrest journalists and “that the media is free and lively.”  However, it seems if Palestinian journalists, even those working in Jerusalem, exercise their freedom of expression in too “lively” a way they are subject to administrative detention. 

    Omar Nazzal in a letter from prison commemorating World Press Freedom Day [03 May]has written: “I was arrested for expressing my opinions, for practicing my job as a journalist, and for defending human rights, and particularly the rights of journalists.”  When journalists are imprisoned, they have become the story and that story is there is no freedom of expression without press freedom. 

    Omar continued, “On behalf of all imprisoned journalists, I pledge to you that we will not put down our pens.  Our voices will remain loud and the lenses of our cameras will always be prepared to document the crimes of the Israeli occupation in order to reveal them to the world.”

    The number of Palestinians held under administrative detention orders has dramatically increased, 692 at the end of April 2016 compared to 400 in April 2015. 

    Administrative detention — ostensibly introduced as an exceptional measure to detain people who pose an extreme and imminent danger to security — is used by Israel as an alternative to the criminal justice system.  People are detained who should not be arrested at all.  AD orders can be renewed indefinitely and evidence is kept secret.  Detainees are not able to challenge their detention and do not know when they will be released.  Amnesty International believes that some Palestinians held in administrative detention are prisoners of conscience, held solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and association.

    Amnesty International continues to document this escalation of acts of intimidation by the Israel government against Human Rights Defenders in the OPT.  Israel is also taking steps to curtail freedom of expression within Israel by targeting others HRDs there.  Recent legislative initiatives seemed aimed at confirming the ad hoc actions of the past six months.

    Take Action: Download, write or email a letter

    For further information, contact Jim Joyce, Israel OPT Coordinator


    Click here to see photographs taken by Hasan Safadi

    Jim Joyce is Amnesty International Canada’s Coordinator for Israel/OPT/Palestine. You can contact him here.