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31.1.2012

HaMoked to the court: order the Israel Prison Service to allow the wife and minor children of a Palestinian life-term prisoner to visit him in prison

In March 2003, the military arrested a senior Hamas activist in the West Bank. The military court sentenced him to 67 life prison terms. Since then, his wife and three minor children have been seeking to visit him in the prison, inside Israel. In the nine years since his arrest, the Israel Prison Service (IPS) allowed his family to visit him only three times. The last visit – possible only through HaMoked's intervention – took place in February 2009. Since then, for more than three years, the IPS has been depriving the prisoner of family visits.

The right to family visits in incarceration facilities is a basic right of both the prisoner and his family, which is established in a long series of Israeli and international legal sources. In and of itself, imprisonment does not warrant the denial of the imprisoned man's basic rights, other than those denied to him by virtue of an express legal stipulation. 

On January 31, 2012, HaMoked filed an urgent petition to instruct the IPS to allow the prisoner's wife and minor children to visit him in the place of imprisonment. This is the third petition HaMoked has filed for the prisoner. Therein, HaMoked asserts that the denial of family visits completely undermines his ability to exercise his right to family life, violates the basic rights of his wife and children and contradicts the principle of the child's best interests. HaMoked notes that restrictions of security and otherwise may be imposed on the right to visits, but they should be considered according to the rules of proportionality and reasonableness, giving weight to the importance of the basic right which would be harmed. 

The IPS provided no reason for the sweeping ban on family visits to the prisoner. HaMoked condemns this adopted practice of the IPS to deny family visits without explanation or valid cause. What sort of state security risk arises from the prisoner's meeting with his wife and children, separated by a glass partition, watched by wardens on all sides? Needless to say, HaMoked's two previous petitions on the matter were rejected, with reference made, inter alia, to the "question of reciprocity" and to the fact that Gilad Shalit had not been granted visits in captivity by Hamas! At present, Shalit having returned to his family, the Israeli authorities should restore the basic rights of the Palestinian prisoners, which should not have been revoked to begin with, and must strictly adhere to the principle whereby imprisonment deprives a person of his liberty but does not diminish his human dignity.
mail@hamoked.org.il (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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