Conditions for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, including women, have been deteriorating in recent years. However, there has been a notable increase in collective and punitive measures adopted by the Israeli Prison Service against such prisoners in recent months.
Since 1967 over 10,000 women have been arrested and detained in Israeli prisons or detention centres.1 The number of female prisoners in Israeli prisons at the one time has fluctuated with a sharp increase following the Second Intifada. Many of these women are mothers, with some even being pregnant at the time of arrest forcing a number of children to be born while incarcerated. As of June 2011 there were 37 female prisoners detained within Israeli prisons.2
On the whole Palestinian female prisoners in Israeli prisons have been denied their basic rights to liberty (including the right to legal representation and the right to be informed of reason for detention) and a fair trial. In addition, they have been subjected to poor cell conditions, experienced inadequate healthcare, faced restrictions on their education, had to endure treatment which disregards their personal dignity and had family visits repeatedly restricted or denied. The existence of these collective and punitive measures and their increased use is unacceptable and constitutes grave violations of the rights of these women guaranteed under international humanitarian and human rights laws.
Under the recently announced prisoner swap deal 27 female prisoners are due to be released.3 However, it is important to remember that this deal will not change anything for remaining and future Palestinian prisoners. Therefore, the ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners within Israeli prisons remains a live issue.
In light of the deteriorating situation the Palestinian Council of Human Rights Organisations (PCHRO), of which WCLAC is a member, have appealed to the European Parliament and Council of Europe to assist in granting Palestinian prisoners, including women, their basic rights under international law.
To view the PCHRO’s letters please click the links below:
Letter to Council of Europe
Letter to European Parliament