State Attorney’s Office to HaMoked: No inmates in secret prison, Facility 1391, for “some time” המוקד להגנת הפרט
State Attorney’s Office to HaMoked: No inmates in secret prison, Facility 1391, for “some time”
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In January 2011, the High Court of Justice (HCJ) dismissed HaMoked’s petition for the immediate closure of Facility 1391, giving its seal of approval to the facility, which operates in complete secrecy and has been used mostly for the internment and interrogation of Muslim/Arab foreign nationals. The judgment contained a classified addendum, “the restrictive arrangement”, suggested by the State Attorney’s Office, which brought the secret prison under Israeli law, but effectively left everything that goes on inside it – shrouded in secrecy.

Since the judgment was handed down, HaMoked has continued its attempts to monitor Israel’s use of the facility. To do so, HaMoked contacts the State Attorney’s Office every time concerns arise that someone might be held in the secret facility, as was the case, for example, in May 2011, when Israel arrested a Syrian national in Tel Aviv and in April 2012, when the army arrested three Lebanese nationals who crossed the border near Metula.

On June 4, 2012, HaMoked received the response of Adv. Dan Eldad, Senior Division Manger (Special Functions), State Attorney’s Office, with respect to the secret facility. Eldad stated that “there have been no inmates in this facility for some time”, and that the vague responses HaMoked had received on this issue were the result of misinterpretation of HaMoked’s request. Eldad added that following HaMoked’s response “they decided to reiterate to the relevant officials the importance of providing clear, accurate responses to the individuals who contact the prison control center, including with respect to locating detainees held in facility 1391”.

HaMoked reiterates that when the court legitimized the secret facility, it created secret law and secret rulings. The details of the arrangement approved for publication by the court reveal that residents of Israel or the OPT would not be held in the facility; that detainees would be kept there for "a limited and extremely brief duration"; and that holding a person in the facility requires approval by "senior ranking" officials and informing the Attorney General. Furthermore, in an ex parte hearing, the state presented the court with procedures purported to guarantee detainees' rights: the facility is to undergo periodic inspections and may be visited by members of the Knesset's Secret Services Subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

The bottom line is that in 2012, Israel continued to operate a secret prison, in defiance of a string of explicit provisions in both Israeli and international law.
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