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A Palestinian man was held incommunicado for over two days, allegedly for coronavirus testing; Only following HaMoked’s habeas corpus petition were his current whereabouts revealed

On April 23, 2020, HaMoked submitted a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a 22-year-old Palestinian man from the West Bank, who was arrested from his home in the early morning hours of April 20, 2020 by the Israeli security forces. His family members, who were, of course, present during his arrest, were not told where he was to be taken to. For three days, they were left in uncertainty and anxiety as to his whereabouts and fate. HaMoked attempts to locate him through the routine channel failed, as the military control center, charged with collating up-to-date information on Palestinian inmates from the oPt, stated that the detainee was not located. Later on, following HaMoked’s insistence, the military center stated the detainee was “expected to be released on April 24, 2020. [He] has not yet been registered by the Israel Prison Service”. Later on, the center informed HaMoked that the detainee was being interrogated by the Israel Security Agency and that his whereabouts could not be revealed. Therefore, some 72 hours into his arrest and over 48 hours after HaMoked’s first attempt to trace him, the petition was filed to the High Court of Justice.

In the petition, HaMoked argued that this was a severe violation of the basic right – of both the detainee and his family members – to notification about his arrest and whereabouts. Additionally, HaMoked asserted, this was a violation of the detainee’s right that his concrete whereabouts be known and clear to all, as this was a basic condition for the realization of his other rights, including the right to counsel and to possible intervention in the conditions of detention.

Later that day, the State Attorney’s Office notified HaMoked that “according to information provided by the [Israel] Prison Service and security officials”, the detainee was being held at the Kishon detention facility as of April 22, 2020, “after he underwent medical tests to rule out coronavirus”.

HaMoked now demands that the state submit to the court a notice explaining the incommunicado holding, which lasted for over two days; that the detainee’s whereabouts during that time be revealed; and that the relevant procedure, if there is one, on the handling of detainees suspected to be ill with coronavirus be revealed. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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