[Pnews] Urgent petition filed with Israeli Supreme Court calls for cancellation of coronavirus emergency regulations banning prisoners from meeting with lawyers, family

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Mar 26 13:29:17 EDT 2020

petition filed with Israeli Supreme Court calls for cancellation of
coronavirus emergency regulations banning prisoners from meeting with
lawyers, family
26 March 2020
*Emergency regulations, imposed by the Israeli government without any legal
authority, overwhelming and disproportionately violate prisoners’ human

Attorney Abeer Baker, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in
Israel, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, and the
prisoner Kafri Mansour together were slated to file an urgent petition to
the Israeli Supreme Court this morning, Thursday, 26 March 2020, against
emergency regulations enacted in the shadow of the coronavirus crisis
preventing lawyers and family members from meeting with prisoners being
held in Israeli detention.

CLICK HERE to read this press release on Adalah’s website:

According to the new regulations imposed on 15 March 2020, the Israeli
public security minister, at the recommendation of the Israel Prison
Service (IPS) director or the Israeli police commissioner, may ban visits
with prisoners and detainees, and can limit prisoners’ consultation with a
lawyer only by telephone, which he did.

In addition to the harm caused by the regulations to all prisoners held in
Israeli facilities, they are particularly stringent with individuals
designated by Israel as “security prisoners” – overwhelmingly Palestinians
from the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), numbering around 5,000. The
emergency regulations allow these prisoners to consult by phone with their
attorneys only when a court hearing on their case is slated to be held
during the emergency period. While they are also banned from family visits,
the result is that “security prisoners” will be banned from any contact
with the outside world and will thus be prevented to report to families or
lawyers about violations of their rights inside prisons.

The petition describes, for example, a telephone conversation between
co-petitioner attorney Abeer Baker and a prisoner Israel’s Ofer prison,
which was broadcast via loudspeakers in front of prison guards and other

Adalah Attorney Aiah Haj Odeh argued in the petition that, while there is
no disputing the IPS's duty to ensure the health of prisoners and
detainees, the emergency regulations banning visits overwhelmingly and
disproportionately violate the prisoners’ rights and therefore must be
repealed. The regulations also significantly harm the rights of juvenile
prisoners, eliminating their right to visits by attorneys and family
members even though this right is enshrined in Israeli law.

The petitioners further maintain the emergency regulations constitute a
disproportionate violation of constitutional rights. In addition to the
violation of the right to counsel, the regulations also violate the right
to due process, access to the courts, the constitutional right to dignity
and equality, and attorney-client privilege.

The petitioners also stressed that the Israel government has imposed the
ban without any legal authority and it must therefore be rescinded for that
reason as well.

Article 39(d) of Israel’s Basic Law: The Government (2001) explicitly
states that “Emergency regulations may not prevent recourse to legal
action, or prescribe retroactive punishment or allow infringement upon
human dignity.” The Israeli government is not authorized, therefore, to
implement such emergency regulations.

The petitioners call on the Israeli Supreme Court to cancel the regulations
or, alternatively, enable prisoners to conduct telephone conversations with
family members and attorneys while preserving their confidentiality and

Adalah Attorney Aiah Haj Odeh further commented:

“The challenges that this state of emergency pose to Israeli authorities
cannot allow them to run rampant over fundamental human rights.
International law requires that Israel must recognize the right of
prisoners and detainees to visit with family, and to consult with lawyers
and access the courts. Adalah is very concerned about the manner in which
the Israeli government has imposed ‘emergency regulations’ since the
outbreak of the coronavirus, and we continue to argue – as in our Supreme
Court petition against digital surveillance last week – that there is no
constitutional infrastructure that gives the government any authority to
take such action."
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