Statements & Publications

Letter of Support for Palestinian Hunger Strikers from Lawyers, Legal Workers, Law Students and Legal Organizations

Over 200 lawyers, law students, legal workers and legal organizations have come together to sign the following letter in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli prisons. Additional signatures are welcome - you may sign on at the form, or send your signature to international@nlg.org.

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http://www.nlginternational.org/2017/04/letter-of-support-for-palestinian-hunger-strikers-from-lawyers-legal-workers-law-students-and-legal-organizations/

 

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We, the undersigned lawyers, legal organizations, law students and legal workers, express our solidarity with Palestinian lawyers currently boycotting Israeli military courts. This boycott was launched on April 18 in response to Israeli authorities’ denial of legal visits to Palestinian prisoners participating in a hunger strike launched on April 17 and involving approximately 1,500 detainees. (1) In addition, we declare our support and solidarity for the demands of the Palestinian hunger strikers (2) and urge their immediate implementation.

Palestinian lawyers have taken the step of boycotting Israeli military court proceedings after being denied access to clients participating in the hunger strike detained at multiple Israeli prisons and detention centers, including Marwan Barghouthi, a prominent Palestinian political leader and spokesperson of hunger-striking prisoners affiliated with the Palestinian political faction, Fateh. (3) Barghouthi, whose essay on the hunger strike was published on April 16 in the New York Times, (4) has reportedly been transferred to two different prisons and thrown into solitary confinement in retaliation for the Times piece. (5)

While Israeli military law gives military courts the authority to try any person located inside the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) as long as they are 12 years or older, in practice, the West Bank is governed by two separate systems of law. The military courts only adjudicate cases against the Palestinian population. Israeli settlers who commit offenses in the West Bank are subject to Israel’s civilian criminal justice system.

Israel's military courts have a conviction rate of 99 percent against Palestinian "security" defendants in military trials. (6) Since Israeli forces occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in 1967, over 1,700 military orders have been issued, regulating all aspects of Palestinian life in the OPT.

The primary military order relevant to the arrest and detention of Palestinians, including children, is Military Order 1651 or “Order regarding Security Provisions.” This order touches on a range of issues, including the authority to arrest and imprison Palestinians for “security offenses,” such as throwing stones, assault, and harming a soldier. Other offenses include membership in a banned organization, which implicates nearly all Palestinian political parties, and  participating in demonstrations. (7)

Every year, nearly 700 Palestinian children are arrested, detained and prosecuted in the military court system. (8) Most of these child prisoners are arrested in violent late-night raids, interrogated without a lawyer and denied access to their parents. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child outlines minimum required protections for children.  However, Palestinian children are "systematically subject to degrading treatment, and often to acts of torture." (9) Children most commonly face the charge of throwing stones, which carries maximum sentences of 10 or 20 years, depending on the circumstances. (10)

Israeli military courts fail to live up to international fair trial standards. (11)  Israeli military law and the Israeli military court system deny essential fair trial guarantees which are recognized internationally and are necessary to ensure that individuals are protected from unlawful or arbitrary deprivation of their human rights and freedoms.

International human rights law and international humanitarian law, which apply  to the OPT, (12) restrict the jurisdiction of the Israeli military courts and guarantee basic safeguards for a fair trial. Accordingly, individuals should be presumed innocent, they should not be compelled to testify against themselves or confess guilt, and they should be informed promptly and in detail of the charges against them in a language that they understand. (13) However, Israeli military court judges seldom exclude confessions obtained by coercion or torture, even those drafted in Hebrew, a language that most Palestinians do not understand. Within the Israeli military court structure, judges and prosecutors are active members of the Israeli military. They are subject to military discipline and dependent on superiors for promotion. They are fundamentally part of the system enforcing the occupation. Under international human rights law, a fair trial can only be guaranteed by an independent and impartial system.

We express our full support for our Palestinian colleagues in their boycott of the Israeli military court system and urge Israeli authorities to allow lawyers immediate access to all clients held in Israeli prisons and detention centers, particularly those engaged in a hunger strike.

Further, we express our support for the hunger strikers' demands, and urge their implementation. One of the primary  demands of the hunger strikers is an end to the policy of administrative detention. Administrative detention must never be used as a substitute for criminal prosecution where there is insufficient evidence to obtain a conviction. There are currently approximately 530 Palestinians held in  administrative detention, imprisoned without charge or trial for indefinitely-renewable periods of up to six months, on the basis of secret evidence. (14) Israel's systematic use of administrative detention as a replacement for actual trials violates international human rights and humanitarian law.

Another key demand of the hunger strikers is an end to the use of solitary confinement in Israeli prisons. The use of long-term solitary confinement is widely understood to be a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment that may amount to torture. (15)  In the Palestinian context, solitary confinement orders are addressed by the same military system responsible for the occupation of Palestinian land. In 2016, Israeli authorities held increasing numbers of Palestinian children in solitary confinement for longer periods, solely for interrogation purposes. (16)

Another central component of the hunger strike addresses the denial of family visits to Palestinian prisoners, as a result of, among other things, the unlawful transfer of prisoners to prisons located inside Israel. Palestinians, including children, are held at prisons and detention centers inside Israel for interrogation purposes, pre-trial detention, or prior to appearing in the military courts. Transfer of Palestinian detainees to prisons and detention facilities of any kind inside Israel, even for brief periods, constitutes an unlawful transfer in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. (17) Under international law, Palestinian prisoners must be allowed to receive visitors at regular intervals and as frequently as possible. (18)

However, all but one of the 17 prisons holding Palestinians are located inside Israel, making it extremely difficult for family members to get permission to visit . At least 1,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently barred from receiving family visits on "security grounds." Beyond this, many more family visits are denied to prisoners by Israel’s frequent refusal to issue to family members the special permits required to be able to visit their loved ones in prison. Amnesty International recently documented the heavy restrictions and frequent denials of family visits for Palestinian prisoners. (19)

In addition, hunger-striking prisoners demand improved medical treatment and access to specialized care; increasing the length of family visits from 45 to 90 minutes; improved access to media and gifts, including books, clothing and food from family members; restoring educational access to distance learning; and the installation of public pay telephones for family calls in each prison wing.

The ongoing, large-scale imprisonment of Palestinians, the unjust Israeli military court system that Palestinians are subject to, and the myriad of  rights violations taking place behind prison walls requires our response as lawyers, legal organizations, law students and legal workers. We urge Israeli authorities to immediately implement the hunger strikers' demands; respect and ensure all internationally recognized fair trials rights and protections; and end widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian child prisoners.  We also call for the dismantlement of Israel’s military court system, which embodies and perpetuates the systemic discrimination and rights denials inherent in Israel’s prolonged occupation of Palestinian land and lives.

Organizational and Individual Signatures

National Lawyers Guild
International Association of Democratic Lawyers
Addameer Prisoner Support & Human Rights Association
Alternative Intervention of Athens Lawyers
Center for Constitutional Rights
Central Arizona National Lawyers Guild
Chico Palestine Action Group
ELDH European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights
Hellenic Union of Progressive Lawyers
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
International League of Peoples Struggle
Lawyers Rights Watch Canada
National Lawyers Guild, Buffalo Chapter
National Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles Chapter
National Lawyers Guild, Sacramento chapter
National Lawyers Guild, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter
National Lawyers Guild, South Florida Chapter
National Lawyers Guild at UC Irvine Law
New York Environmental Law & Justice Project
Palestine Legal
Palestine American League, PAL Sacramento
Prison Liberation Collective
Project South
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
The Jericho Movement
Whatcom Civil Rights Project
Workers Rights Advocates at Fordham Law


Abdeen Jabara, National Lawyers Guild, USA
Adeeb Alzanoon, Palestine American League, PAL Sacramento, Sacramento
Adrienne Harreveld, University of Miami School of Law, Coral Gables, FL, US
Alaina Thomas, Newark, NJ
Alan Levine, Miami Beach, FL
Alexandra Grant, New York, NY, USA
Alissa R. Hull, Ithaca, NY
Allee Rosenmayer, Oakland, USA
Amith R. Gupta, New York
Amy Bouldin, Seattle University School of Law, Seattle, WA, USA
Amy Tannenbaum, Stanford NLG, Palo Alto, CA
Andres Medina, New York, NY
Anisa Rahim, Jersey City
Anjana Joshi, Irvine, USA
Ann Schneider, Brooklyn
Ashwini Sukthankar, Rhinecliff, USA
Audrey Bomse, NLG-South Florida chapter, Miami, FL
Aviva Galpert, San Francisco, CA, USA
Azadeh N. Shahshahani, Legal & Advocacy Director, Project South; past President, National Lawyers Guild, Atlanta
Bailey Strelow, New York, USA
Barbara Handschu, NLG, New York, NY
Barbara Harvey, Jewish Voice for Peace-Detroit, Detroit, MI, USA
Bethany Saul, NYU Law, New York, New York
Blythe Hawthorne-Loizeaux, NYU School of Law, Brooklyn
Bobby Kunhu, Salem, India
Brad Parker, Defence for Children International - Palestine, New York, NY
Brandon Davis, NYU Law School, New York, NY
Brian Sullivan, Brooklyn
Brian Yeh, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Camil Sanchez-Palumbo, Chicago, IL
Carl G. Snodgrass, Penn Law L'17, Philadelphia, PA
Carol Sanders, Jewish Voice for Peace, Berkeley, CA
Cat Brooks, Director, National Lawyers Guild - San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, San Francisco, CA
Cecilia Perry, Washington, DC
Charlotte Berschback, National Lawyers Guild (Georgetown University Law Center Chapter), District of Columbia, USA
Charlotte Kates, National Lawyers Guild International Committee and Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
Charlotte Resing, Washington, DC
Chip Gibbons, Washington, DC, USA
Christine Brathwaite, NYU Law LSJP, New York, NY
Christine Sifferman, New York, NY
Claudia Kuhns, Water Protector Legal Collective, Denver, Colorado
D Leland Castleberry, International Solidarity Commission (IWW union), San Francisco, California
Dan Kovalik, Pittsburgh, USA
Dan McKenzie, Corvallis Oregon
Daniel Meyers, Lawyer, New York, NY, USA
Daniel Webster, Esq., Buffalo, NY
David L. Mandel, National Lawyers Guild; Jewish Voice for Peace, Sacramento
David R. Saffold, Esq., Law Offices of David Saffold, Washington, DC
David Weisberg, National Lawyers Guild, Minneapolis, MN
Dean Spade, Associate Professor, Seattle University School of Law, Seattle, United States
Deborah Weissman, Chapel Hill NC
Denisea Kennedy, Dordrecht, The Netherlands
Diane Paul, Coupeville, WA
Dianne Post, Phoenix, AZ
Drake Hamilton, NLG, Atlanta, GA, USA
Drew Friedfertig, National Lawyers Guild - Buffalo, New York Chapter, Buffalo, New York, USA
Eileen Weitzman, co-chair Palestine subcommittee, NLG, Brooklyn, NY USA
Emily Beck, Mandan, North Dakota, USA
Emily Hoffman, New York, NY
Emily Yozell, Costa Rica
Florence Otaigbe, CUNY School of Law, New York City, USA
Garrett Wright, Washington DC
Gaye Ozpinar, Law Office of Gaye Ozpinar, Boston, MA USA
Geoffrey Schotter, Esq., Brooklyn, New York, USA
Gerardo Romo, NYU School of Law, New York City, USA
Gilbert Saucedo, Los Angeles, CA USA
Glen Forster, Philadelphia, USA
Haley, NLG - University of Montana Law School, Missoula, USA
Harsha Walia, Vancouver, Canada
Adv. Hasan Tarique Chowdhury, Democractic Lawyers Assoc of Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Heidi I. Jones, Buffalo, NY
Helen Boyer, National Lawyers Guild - UC Irvine Student Chapter, Irvine, CA
Henry Rodriguez, Miami, Florida
Hira Ahmed, NYU School of Law, New York City
Huwaida Arraf, Civil/Human Rights Attorney, Detroit, MI. USA
Irina Ceric, Vancouver, Canada
J. Anna Cabot, University of Connecticut, Hartford, USA
Jackelyn Mariano, National Lawyers Guild - Philippines Subcommittee, New York City, USA
James G. Milles, Buffalo, NY
James Marc Leas, NLG, South Burlington Vermont
Jamie Kearney, Iowa State Public Defender, Iowa City, U.S.A.
Jamil Dakwar, ACLU, New York, USA
Jane Alper, Peacham VT
Jeff Petrucelly, National Lawyers Guild, Ma Chapter, Boston, SuffolkCounty
Jeff Sarles, Workers World, Chicago, IL USA
Jeffrey Frank, Chicago, IL
Joab Kunin, National Lawyers Guild, Austell, Georgia
Joelle Eliza M. Lingat, Jersey City, NJ
John Laun, Laun Law Offices, Middleton, WI U.S.A.
John Loranger, CUNY School of Law, New York City, U.S.A.
Jon Sternberg, Oakland California
Jordan Winquist, National Lawyers Guild, Environmental Human Rights Committee, Philadelphia, PA
Joseph Hamilton, Climate Defense Project, Lima, Peru
Joseph Lipofsky, New York, NY
Jude Glaubman, National Lawyers Guild - MA, Cambridge, MA
Jude Ortiz, Mass Defense Committee, NLG, California, USA
Judith Mirkinson, Legal Worker Vice President, National Lawyer's Guild, San Francisco, CA, USA
Judy Somberg, NLG, Cambridge, MA, USA
Julian Tennent-Riddell, Vancouver, Canada
Katherine A, CUNY Law NLG, Queens, NY
Katherine Gallagher, CCR, New York, NY
Kathleen Gilberd, NLG Military Law Task Force, San Diego, CA
Kathleen Hamill, Esq., JD, MALD, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
Kathleen M. Garbacz, Detroit, MI
Keith Rose, NLG St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, USA
Lale Tuzmen, New York
Lamis J. Deek, Attorney, NLG, USA NYC
Laura Herrera, San Francisco, CA USA
Laura Whitehorn, formerly US-held political prisoner, NYC
Lee R. Glass, Washington, DC USA
Leila Abu-Orf, NLG, ACS, New Orleans, LA, USA
Lila Carpenter, New York, USA
Lilia Epstein-Katz, New York, U.S.
Linda Jansen, Seattle, WA USA
Lowell Chandler, University of Montana - NLG, Missoula
Dr. Maha Hilal, Witness Against Torture, Arlington, VA
Malcolm Kim, Brooklyn, NY
Malita Picasso, New York, NY, USA
Mana Barari, Legal Aid at Work, San Francisco, USA
Maria LaHood, Center for Constitutional Rights, New York, NY United States
Marie Vincent, Pangea Legal Services, San Francisco, USA
Marjorie Cohn, National Lawyers Guild, San Diego
Mark Stern, NLG, Boston
Martha L. Schmidt, National Lawyers Guild, Seattle, Washington, USA
Maryam Adamu, New York, NY
Medhini Kumar, Denver, CO
Meena Jagannath, Miami, USA
Megan Mitchell, Vanderbilt Law School, Nashville, TN
Melissa Smyth, CUNY Law NLG, New York, USA
Michael Deutsch, People's Law Office of Chicago, Chicago
Michael Grinthal, New York City, United States
Michael Letwin, Labor for Palestine; Former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325, Brooklyn NY
Michel Angela Martinez, National Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Michelle Gross, President, Communities United Against Police Brutality, Minneapolis, MN, USA
Michelle Villegas, Washington, DC
Molly M. Rugg, NYU School of Law, New York, NY, United States
Nabihah Maqbool, Chicago, USA
Dr. Nancy E. Boyer, Newark, DE
Natalia Marte, Student at the University at Buffalo School of Law, Buffalo, NY, USA
Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, National Lawyers Guild, New York, US
Nazli Ungan, NYU, New York, NY
Nickolas Kaplan, NLG Chicago, Chicago, IL
Niloufar Khonsari, Berkeley, USA
Nina Farnia, President, National Lawyers Guild - San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, San Francisco, CA
Nora Searle, New York
Norbert Lee Bartochowski, Depew, NY, USA
Ora Schub, Chicago, Illinois USA
Peter Berkowitz, Cambridge, USA
Peter Costanza, National Lawyers Guild, Cambridge, MA
Peter Halewood, Albany, USA
Professor Bill Bowring, President, European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights; Professor of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London; International Secretary, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, London, England
Rafael Teixeira, NYU School of Law, New York, NY
Randall Cohn, National Lawyers Guild of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA
Rasheed Ilmer, Notre Dame Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, South Bend, U.S.
Rathika Vasavithasan, Toronto, Canada
Rawan Masri, USC Students for Justice in Palestine, Los Angeles, USA
Rebecca Ramaswamy, Equal Justice Under Law, Washington, D.C.
Renee Hatcher, Chicago, IL
Rhianna Rey, NLG at Notre Dame Law, Chicago
Richard Rabin, Arlington, MA USA
Rita Sebastian, Legal Worker, National Lawyers Guild MA, Campton, NH
Riva Enteen, NLG, South Lake Tahoe, CA
Robert Gordon, New York City, U.S.
Rosie Hinnebusch, Sarasota, Florida USA
Ryan Usher, National Lawyers Guild, Seattle, United States
Sammar Miqbel, NLG, Sacramento, CA USA
Sarah Mills, NYC
Selene Nafisi, New York, NY
Stephanie Kraft Sheley, O'Fallon, IL
Suraiya Zubair Banu, NYU, New York
Susan Scott, National Lawyers Guild International Committee, Inverness, CA, USA
Suzanne Samera Adely, National Lawyers Guild, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, New York, USA
Tareq Shrourou, Director, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights
Teighlor Bonner, New York, USA
Terry J. Lodge, Toledo, Ohio
Thomas Schmidt, ELDH European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights, Dusseldorf, Germany
Timothy Lunceford-Stevens, New York City
Tyler B. Crawford, Workers Rights Advocates at Fordham Law, New York City, United States of America
Ugochi Madubata, Seattle U.S.A.
V.N. Merlina, Pittsburgh, PA
Will Gelvick, Seattle, WA, USA
William G. Iannaccone, NLG Buffalo Chapter, Buffalo, NY, USA
Yiannis Rachiotis, president of HUPL, member of executive committee of the "European Lawyers for democracy and human rights" (ELDH)
Zora L. Kolkey, LMFT, Bay Area Counseling With Zora, San Francisco, CA, USA
Notes:

1. Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz, April 19, 2017. “Palestinian Hunger-striking Prisoners' Lawyers Call Boycott of All Israeli Court Sessions.” Available at: http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/.premium-1.784148
2.  Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, April 17, 2017. “Demands of the Strikers.” Available at: http://samidoun.net/2017/04/1500-palestinian-prisoners-launch-largest-collective-hunger-strike-in-years-take-action-in-support/#demands
3.  Ma’an News, April 19, 2017. “Palestinian women join hunger strike, lawyers declare boycott of Israeli courts.” Available at: https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776498
4.  Marwan Barghouthi, New York Times, April 16, 2017. “Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons.” Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/16/opinion/palestinian-hunger-strike-prisoners-call-for-justice.html
5.  Ma’an News, April 19, 2017. “Activist group cries foul over Israeli outrage at Marwan Barghouthi op-ed.” Available at: https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776504
6.  Chaim Levinson, Ha’aretz, November 29, 2011. “Nearly 100% of All Military Court Cases in West Bank End in Conviction, Haaretz Learns.” Available at: http://www.haaretz.com/nearly-100-of-all-military-court-cases-in-west-bank-end-in-conviction-haaretz-learns-1.398369. Some sources cite the US State Department figure of an approximately 90 percent conviction rate. See: https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2015/nea/252927.htm In either case, the conviction rate reflects the lack of a fair trial process for Palestinians under occupation.
7.  Lisa Hajjar, “Courting Conflict: The Israeli Military Court System in the West Bank and Gaza.” University of California Press, 2005, p. 59.
8.  Defence for Children International - Palestine. “Issues - Military Detention.” Available at: http://www.dci-palestine.org/issues_military_detention
9.  United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, “Concluding observations on the second to fourth periodic reports of Israel, adopted by the Committee at its sixty-third session (27 May – 14 June 2013).” Available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/docs/co/CRC-C-ISR-CO-2-4.pdf
10.  Defense for Children International - Palestine, No Way to Treat a Child: Palestinian Children in the Israeli Military Detention System, 2 (2016), http://bit.ly/29W41mB.
11.  Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, 2012. “Eyes on Israeli Military Court: A collection of impressions.” Available at: http://www.addameer.org/sites/default/files/publications/eyes_on_israeli_military_court-_a_collection_of_impressions.pdf
12.  International Court of Justice. 9 July 2004. “Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory”.
13.  International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, G.A. Res. 2200A (XXI), art. 14, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/ProfessionalInterest/ccpr.pdf; UN Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 32, Article 14: Right to equality before courts and tribunals and to a fair trial, ¶ 22, UN Doc. CCPR/C/GC/32 (Aug. 23, 2007), http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=CCPR/C/GC/32.
14.  Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, “Administrative Detention. December 2015. Available at: http://www.addameer.org/israeli_military_judicial_system/administrative_detention
15.  UN News Centre, “Solitary confinement should be banned in most cases, UN expert says,” October 18, 2011. Available at: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=40097#.WPjiBtKGNPY
16.  Defense for Children International - Palestine, Palestinian children held in solitary confinement for longer periods, April 17, 2017. http://www.dci-palestine.org/palestinian_children_held_in_solitary_confinement_for_longer_periods
17.  Defense for Children International - Palestine, Palestinian children held in solitary confinement for longer periods, April 17, 2017. http://www.dci-palestine.org/palestinian_children_held_in_solitary_confinement_for_longer_periods
18.  Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, “Family Visits.” http://www.addameer.org/publications/families-family-visits-0
19.  Amnesty International, “Israel must end ‘unlawful and cruel’ practices towards Palestinian prisoners.” April 13, 2017. Available at: https://www.amnesty.org/en/press-releases/2017/04/israel-must-end-unlawful-and-cruel-policies-towards-palestinian-prisoners/