This post originally appeared on PEN International’s website.

PEN International is calling on the Israeli authorities to end the practice of administrative detention against journalists and other writers.  It considers the use of administrative detention – a form of detention without charge or trial imposed for periods of up to six months, renewable an infinite number of times – to violate Israel’s obligation to respect the right to a fair trial, as guaranteed by Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Israel is a state party.

Israel’s increasing resort to the practice, amid a renewed period of violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories since October 2015, has been brought into sharp focus by the hunger strike of TV journalist and writer Muhammed al-Qiq, from Ramallah in the West Bank, whose health is now in grave danger. Al-Qiq has been held without charge or trial since his arrest on November 21, 2015 and has been on hunger strike since November 25. He is refusing everything but water, in order to protest the torture and other ill-treatment to which he says he was subjected in Israeli custody, and to demand his release from detention which he believes is motivated solely by his work as a journalist.

On February 4, 2016, Israel’s Supreme Court “suspended” the administrative detention of al-Qiq, noting the severe deterioration of his health. However, this suspension does not amount to a rescission of his detention order and the practical implications of the suspension remain unclear. He remains in hospital and reports claim that he is shackled by his arms and legs to the bed, despite his medical condition which is noted in the Court order: “the patient faces grave danger and is in a state of high risk of sudden death”.

PEN International calls upon the Israeli authorities to end the practice of administrative detention, including of journalists and other writers, with immediate effect. 

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Background Information

Journalist Muhammed al-Qiq, a 33-year old correspondent for Saudi Arabia’s Almajd TV network, was arrested by the Israeli military at his home in Ramallah in the Occupied Palestinian Territories on November 21, 2015. He was initially taken to a detention center in the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El, before transferring him to a detention center in Jerusalem, and then the Kishon (Jalameh) detention center, near Haifa in Israel. According to Addameer, a Palestinian prisoners’ rights organization, and his lawyer, al-Qiq was tortured during his two-week interrogation by the Israel Security Agency, and denied access to his lawyer. Following his interrogation, he was transferred to Ramleh prison clinic.  As his health deteriorated due to his hunger strike, he was transferred to HaEmek Hospital in Afula, Israel on December 30, where he remains.

On December 17, he received a six-month administrative detention order. On December 24, at a hearing of Ofer Military Court, al-Qiq saw his lawyer for the first time. His administrative detention order was confirmed by a military judge on December 30. His appeal, heard on January 13 was rejected by the Military Court of Appeals prior to the Supreme Court ruling of February 4. While the evidence against him is secret, the military judge at Ofer Military Court told al-Qiq that the file against him accuses him of “incitement”, of working with media associated with Hamas, a Palestinian political faction with an armed wing, and also of being a “threat to the security of the area”. All Palestinian political factions, as well as their armed wings are banned under Israeli military orders in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). 

PEN is also monitoring the case of Amin Abu Wardeh, administratively detained in 2015, who is listed in PEN’s interim Case List for January to June 2015. 

Amin ABU WARDEH:
Profession:  director of the privately owned news website Asdaa Press Date of arrest:  April 15, 2015 Details of arrest: was arrested in an early morning raid on his home in the West Bank city of Nablus by Israeli security forces, according to news reports and his employer. Abu Wardeh's wife, Um Omar, told local press freedom group the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedom (MADA) that Israeli security forces interrogated her husband for an hour at their home before taking him to an unknown location. Soldiers searched their home and confiscated three laptops and her husband's phone. Details of trial: Abu Wardeh was placed under administrative detention, a form of detention without trial, for six months (renewable). An Israeli military court reduced Abu Wardeh's administrative detention from six months to three in May 2015. The order was renewed for a further six months on expiry on July 13, 2015. On July 2, 2015, the Israeli military officials claimed that intelligence indicated he was a senior Hamas activist who posed a "danger to the regional security." Colleagues have pointed to his ongoing documentation of human rights violations by Israeli forces as a possible reason for his detention. Update: According to news reports, on October 15, 2015, his family was not allowed to visit him in prison. Reportedly, his wife was told that it was because he and other inmates were punished. He remained held at the end of the year.  PEN Position: PEN International opposes the widespread use of administrative detention to imprison journalists and other writers and is calling for Amin Abu Wardeh to be released if he is not to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence.

Write A Letter

Please send appeals to the Israeli authorities calling on them to:

  • Release all journalists and other writers held under administrative detention if they are not to be charged  with an internationally recognizable criminal offence and tried in proceedings adhering to international standards;
  • End the use of administrative detention orders as they violate the right to a fair and prompt trial.

Send Your Letter To

Military Judge Advocate General Brigadier General Sharon Afek Hakirya, Tel Aviv, Israel
Fax: +972 3 569 4526 ; Email: avi_n@idf.gov.il

Salutation: Dear Judge Advocate General

Also send copies to:

Commander of the IDF – West Bank Major-General Roni Numa
GOC Central Command
Military Post 01149, Battalion 877 Israel Defense Forces, Israel

Fax: +972 2 530 5741, +972 2 530 5724

Salutation: Dear Major-General Roni Numa

Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan
Kiryat Hamemshala
PO Box 18182

Jerusalem 91181, Israel
Fax: +972 2 584 7872
Email: gerdan@knesset.gov.il

Salutation: Dear Minister

Please copy your appeals to the Embassy of Israel in your country.  A list of embassies can be found here: http://www.allembassies.com/israeli_embassies.htm

**Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 8 March 2016***

Please send us copies of your letters or information about other activities and of any responses received.

Publicity

PEN members are encouraged to publish articles and opinion pieces in your national or local press highlighting the use of administrative detention by Israel to detain journalists.