The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) joined delegates of other nations at the UN Vienna Office to discuss the plight of Palestinian Political Prisoners.
The International Meeting on the Question of Palestine, organised by the UN committee set up in 1975 on the exercise of the Inalienable rights of the Palestinian People, focused on the “urgency of addressing the plight of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons and detention camps”.
The two day meeting offered an opportunity for experts, national representatives and UN working groups on Arbitrary Detention, human rights organizations, to discuss the plight of political prisoners.
During the three plenary session, topics discussed included the scope and conditions of imprisonment of Palestinians, the use of administrative detention, responsibilities of the occupying powers under international law, available legal mechanism to ensure compliance with international law, the situation of Palestinian women, the effect of detention and strengthening the support of the international community for the solution to the question of Palestinian political prisoners.
The participants heard details of how Israel, since the occupation in 1967, incarcerated over 700,000 Palestinians in one form or another under the most dubious of circumstances, with no legal rights and many have been left languishing in Israeli Jails for decades. Palestinians, as young as 12 and as old as 84, some who are severely injured or chronically ill, have been incarcerated without the proper provisions and legal justifications.
Israel’s use of administrative detention, a procedure under which detainees are held without charges or trial, was unanimously condemned. In this procedure there is no intention of bringing a detainee to trial. It has been commonly used by repressive regimes to circumvent the legal process and hinder access by political dissidents to the protection they are entitled to under international law.
Ms Aisling Byrne, from the Conflict Forum, presented the context of Palestinian political prisoners, namely “the militarisation of the political process” which criminalises political dissent, and Palestinian political prisoners imprisoned by the Palestinian Authority (PA).