HaMoked protests the attempt to discredit its efforts to trace Palestinian inmates: this is another attempt by the system to prevent exposure of its failures and hamper human rights organizations from doing their job
The military’s duty – established in its protocols and the case law of the High Court of Justice (HCJ) – is to swiftly notify detainees’ families about the arrest and whereabouts of the detainee. However, for decades, the military has been shifting the responsibility onto HaMoked, which annually sends the military incarceration control center thousands of requests to trace Palestinian detainees and prisoners, after receiving requests for assistance from their anxious families.
Thus occurred recently when a minor with a leg injury and in need of surgery was arrested at his home in the West Bank by Israeli security forces, without his family being informed where he was taken and what his condition was. The family contacted HaMoked, which then turned to the military to trace the youth. After the military failed to trace the minor, HaMoked filed a habeas corpus petition to the HCJ. Only then did the military trace the minor.
In its response to the petition, the state opted to discredit HaMoked’s work, rather than own up to its own failures. The state therefore raised the baseless and outrageous claim that “in a number of cases, HaMoked applied to the control center after the detainee’s family had already been informed about his whereabouts, or after the detainee already began being represented by a lawyer. In such cases, there was no justification for contacting the incarceration control center of the IDF for the purpose of tracing, and there was even doubt whether the control center was contacted at the family’s request”.
In a letter to the State’s Attorney’s Office, sent March 13, 2017, HaMoked protested against the fact that such an allegation has been raised. HaMoked views with severity the military’s new demand (origination in the preposterous claim that HaMoked applies to trace detainees on its own behalf), to include in each request the details of the relative seeking to trace the detainee: “HaMoked has no way of receiving information about detainees… including identity numbers… without receiving such details from the family members”.
Moreover, HaMoked stressed that the new detainee-tracing form instituted by the military is nothing but a ploy presented as a means of streamlining the process while actually complicating it, with just one aim – making the process harder for HaMoked, which sends thousands of tracing requests each year. HaMoked wrote to the military on this matter and alerted that adding to the bureaucracy of the tracing-request process would not only delay the submission of requests but also their handling by the military.
HaMoked wishes to recall that at stake is the mental and physical wellbeing of detainees and the protection of their basic rights, as well as their families’ right to know the whereabouts of their loved-ones.