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22.1.2012

Following HaMoked's petition: a prisoner will be able to meet his sister for the first time in eight years

On November 29, 2011, HaMoked petitioned the court to instruct the Israel Prison Service (IPS) to allow a prisoner's sister to visit him in Hadarim Prison, where he is serving a life sentence. Over the years since his arrest in 2003, the petitioner, born 1969, has had very few visits – his elderly mother has been too ill to visit him; the military has refused to issue his brothers permits to enter Israel for such visitation, claiming that they were "banned on security grounds"; his only visitor has been his 55 year old sister, who can only visit him once every other month, because of her cancer.

His other sister, 48 year old and a mother of one, was arrested in 1979 and sentenced to two years in prison. Ever since her release 30 years ago, she has never been arrested or interrogated again; nonetheless, the IPS refused to allow her entry to the prison to visit her brother, as she requires special permission as "former inmate". The military, on its part, considered that her entry to Israel did not entail any risk, and issued her a permit to enter Israel to visit her brother, valid for one year.

In August 2011, the Hadarim prison authorities rejected the sister's request to visit her brother, based on unexplained "security reasons". HaMoked appealed to the IPS' Central District Commander against the decision and complained of the lack of sufficient explanation, all the more necessary given the difficult humanitarian circumstances of the case. In response, HaMoked was informed that the district commander had refused to allow the sister to visit her brother. No reason or explanation was provided, and neither was any time limit on the denial specified.

Following the ungrounded refusals of the IPS, HaMoked filed a prisoner petition to allow the sister's visit. In the petition, HaMoked stressed that the right to family visits to incarceration facilities was a fundamental right of both the detainees and their families, a right that is firmly established in a wide array of Israeli and international legal sources. Imprisonment per se does not justify the denial of the incarcerated person's rights: the prison walls restrict the prisoner's freedom of movement but they do not have the power to deprive him of other basic rights.

In the hearing, the IPS presented the justice with "intelligence material" relating to the prisoner and his sister, which the justice ruled was insufficient to warrant the denial of visits.

The IPS withdrew its decision and lifted the ban. The sister will now be able to enter the prison and visit her brother for the first time since his arrest.
mail@hamoked.org.il (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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