Israel holds 335 Palestinians without trial: rights groups

JERUSALEM - Israel is currently holding 335 Palestinians without trial in breach of international law, two Israeli human rights groups said on Wednesday.
Of the 335 Palestinians held in so-called administrative detention, one is a minor and three are women.
One of the prisoners has been held for more than four and a half years without trial and another 28 have been in detention for between two and four years, HaMoked and B'Tselem said.

Israel's policy of "extensive detentions breaches international law which permits use of administrative detention only in very extreme cases," the groups said.
They said judicial reviews of the cases of Palestinians held under administrative orders present "a semblance of a fair judicial process, but in fact denies the detainees any possibility to reasonably defend themselves against the allegations made against them."
In most case, judges declare evidence to be privileged and rely on reports by the Israeli security agencies submitted in the absence of the detainee or his attorney.
"Consequently, the detainees cannot refute the allegations or offer alternative evidence," the groups said.
Between August 2008 and July 2009, military court judges approved 95 percent of the detention orders brought to them, they said.
"HaMoked and B'Tselem call on the government of Israel to release the administrative detainees or to prosecute them according to the standards of international law regarding due process."
Administrative detention is based on a 1945 British mandate law.
Israel often justifies its use by saying a trial would reveal sensitive information, such as on informants. Such detention orders can be issued for up to six months and be renewed indefinitely.

Wednesday, October 14th 2009

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