HaMoked in a petition to the HCJ: the conditions of imprisonment in the interrogation block at Shikma Prison are unacceptable and fall short of the minimum standards prescribed in both Israeli law and international law המוקד להגנת הפרט
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21.09.2015
HaMoked in a petition to the HCJ: the conditions of imprisonment in the interrogation block at Shikma Prison are unacceptable and fall short of the minimum standards prescribed in both Israeli law and international law
HaMoked in a petition to the HCJ: the conditions of imprisonment in the interrogation block at Shikma Prison are unacceptable and fall short of the minimum standards prescribed in both Israeli law and international law
During 2013–2014, HaMoked collected some 100 affidavits of detainees from the OPT who had been interrogated at the interrogation block of the Israel Security Agency (ISA) at Shikma Prison in Ashkelon from August 2013 to May 2014. It emerges from the testimonies that detainees in the interrogation block are kept in filthy cells, without sunlight or adequate ventilation; usually, they are not allowed to shower and are not provided with replacement clothes; and the food they receive is insufficient and of poor quality. Consequently, many detainees suffered from headaches, extreme weight loss and skin irritations. The testimonies suggest that some of the detainees suffered from despair, and even suicidal thoughts, as a result of their prolonged holding in isolation in small windowless cells, which they dubbed the “tomb”, during the course of their interrogation by ISA interrogators.

In view of these findings, on September 15, 2014, HaMoked sent a letter to the Shikma Prison Commander, demanding that the he swiftly act to repair these deficiencies and see to it that the interrogation facility underwent renovations as soon as possible. But despite HaMoked’s repeated reminders concerning the appalling incarceration conditions in Shikma, no response arrived from the prison management for months.

As no response arrived, on September 21, 2015, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to instruct the IPS to improve the conditions of imprisonment in the Shikma interrogation block, and to transfer those held there to another detention facility, where conditions were adequate, until the deficiencies were repaired. In the petition, HaMoked stressed the fundamental principle – established in both Israeli law and international law – that the human rights of interned persons are guaranteed to them also in incarceration; according to this approach, “when a person enters prison, s/he loses her/his freedom but not her/his dignity”. Furthermore, under the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, basic conditions must be afforded to the internees in the place of imprisonment, sufficient to maintain their health and dignity. However, as HaMoked has proved, the prison conditions in the ISA interrogation block at Shikma even fall short of the minimum standards required by Israeli law, which are lower than international law standards required in order to avoid cruel and inhuman punishment.

It should be noted that in 2011, a similar petition HaMoked had filed led to the renovation of the ISA interrogation facility in Petah Tikva. The significant improvement in the conditions there proves that repairing such deficiencies is possible.
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During 2013–2014, HaMoked collected some 100 affidavits of detainees from the OPT who had been interrogated at the interrogation block of the Israel Security Agency (ISA) at Shikma Prison in Ashkelon from August 2013 to May 2014. It emerges from the testimonies that detainees in the interrogation block are kept in filthy cells, without sunlight or adequate ventilation; usually, they are not allowed to shower and are not provided with replacement clothes; and the food they receive is insufficient and of poor quality. Consequently, many detainees suffered from headaches, extreme weight loss and skin irritations. The testimonies suggest that some of the detainees suffered from despair, and even suicidal thoughts, as a result of their prolonged holding in isolation in small windowless cells, which they dubbed the “tomb”, during the course of their interrogation by ISA interrogators.

In view of these findings, on September 15, 2014, HaMoked sent a letter to the Shikma Prison Commander, demanding that the he swiftly act to repair these deficiencies and see to it that the interrogation facility underwent renovations as soon as possible. But despite HaMoked’s repeated reminders concerning the appalling incarceration conditions in Shikma, no response arrived from the prison management for months.

As no response arrived, on September 21, 2015, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to instruct the IPS to improve the conditions of imprisonment in the Shikma interrogation block, and to transfer those held there to another detention facility, where conditions were adequate, until the deficiencies were repaired. In the petition, HaMoked stressed the fundamental principle – established in both Israeli law and international law – that the human rights of interned persons are guaranteed to them also in incarceration; according to this approach, “when a person enters prison, s/he loses her/his freedom but not her/his dignity”. Furthermore, under the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, basic conditions must be afforded to the internees in the place of imprisonment, sufficient to maintain their health and dignity. However, as HaMoked has proved, the prison conditions in the ISA interrogation block at Shikma even fall short of the minimum standards required by Israeli law, which are lower than international law standards required in order to avoid cruel and inhuman punishment.

It should be noted that in 2011, a similar petition HaMoked had filed led to the renovation of the ISA interrogation facility in Petah Tikva. The significant improvement in the conditions there proves that repairing such deficiencies is possible.
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