HaMoked to the Israel Prison Service: the corona emergency regulations must be changed to allow security inmates, especially minors, to maintain phone contact with their families and lawyers; they must also be supplied with sufficient amounts of disinfectants and hygiene products
On March 19, 2020, HaMoked sent two letters to the Israel Prison Service (IPS) regarding the rights and health of Palestinian prisoners and detainees who are classified as “security inmates” during the coronavirus crisis.
In the first letter, HaMoked complained about the severe repercussions of the emergency regulations published on March 15, 2020, following the spread of the coronavirus, with respect to security inmates. HaMoked stated that while certain restrictive regulations are now undoubtedly necessary in prison as elsewhere, the new regulations cause disproportionate and severe harm to the rights of security inmates.
On a regular basis, the IPS does not allow security inmates to have telephone contact with their families, and only recently has it started permitting minors classified as security inmates to maintain some telephone contact with their families, but only in a few facilities. This state of affairs is inherently unacceptable, but in the present situation, clearly the harm caused thereby is far greater given to the suspension of all family visits to prisons. This leaves the security inmates without any contact with their families and the outside world, and this at a time when every person is anxious and concerned about the fate of his family members. Therefore it is now imperative to allow security inmates to maintain at least minimum phone contact with their families. In the case of minors, increased phone contact should be enabled given their heightened need for the support of their parents during the crisis.
Furthermore, given the restrictions now set on the entry of lawyers to prisons, HaMoked demanded that the IPS allow security inmates to maintain contact with their lawyers at this time, under the same conditions as those which now apply to criminal inmates, whereby contact is allowed and may be initiated either by the inmate or their counsel. HaMoked asserted that in the constantly changing circumstances resulting from the pandemic, as new instructions and restrictions are being set daily, it is unacceptable that part of the vulnerable population of inmates be denied the possibility of communicating to their lawyers or families their condition and needs. Moreover, this absolute restriction precludes any monitoring over the IPS conduct towards the security inmates at this time.
HaMoked’s second letter concerns the IPS corona preparations. HaMoked demanded that the IPS cancel the baseless exclusion set regarding security inmates, which prevents them – contrary to criminal inmates – from receiving and purchasing extra amounts of disinfectants and personal hygiene products and being instructed on how to protect themselves from getting infected with the virus. HaMoked also requested to receive the IPS guidelines for handling a case of a corona-ill security inmate. HaMoked stressed that in such case, the family must be notified and updated on any development concerning their loved-one’s condition, treatment and so on. HaMoked asked that the IPS publish the relevant guidelines, including the manner of treatment and holding conditions of infected inmates.