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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 185th session
(Geneva, 21 October 2009)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. Ahmad Sa'adat, elected in January 2006 to the Palestinian Legislative Council, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/185/11(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 184th session (April 2009),

Referring also to the study produced by the Israeli non-governmental organization Yesh Din (Volunteers for Human Rights) on the implementation of due process rights in Israeli military courts in the West Bank, entitled “Backyard Proceedings”, which reveals the absence of due process rights in those courts, and to the study of B’Tselem - the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories - entitled “Barred from Contact” on violations of the right to visit Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, published in September 2006,

Recalling the following:

  • On 14 March 2006, Mr. Sa’adat, whom the Israeli authorities had accused of involvement in the October 2001 murder of Mr. R. Zeevi, the Israeli Minister of Tourism, was abducted by the Israeli Defence Forces from Jericho jail and transferred to Hadarim in Israel together with four other prisoners suspected of involvement in the murder; the Israeli authorities concluded one month later that he had not been involved in the killing and charged the other four suspects with the murder; subsequently 19 other charges were brought against Mr. Sa'adat, all of which arise from his leadership of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), considered a terrorist organization by Israel, and none of which allege direct involvement in crimes of violence;

  • Mr. Sa'adat refused to recognize the jurisdiction of the court, and only in the hearing held after his conviction, but before the handing down of the sentence, did he offer a political rather than legal defence; during the proceedings, the court heard 37 prosecution witnesses, all fellow prisoners, but, according to Mr. Sa'adat’s lawyer, was unable to produce any proof of his direct or indirect involvement in or responsibility for any violence; on 25 December 2008, Mr. Sa'adat was sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment;

  • Mr. Sa'adat was held in Hadarim prison and transferred in mid-March 2009 to Ashkalon prison; he suffers from cervical neck pain, high blood pressure and asthma and has reportedly not been examined by a physician; at the beginning of his detention the Israeli authorities refused to let his wife visit him; for the first seven months, Mr. Sa'adat received no family visit; his children with Palestinian ID cards have not been allowed to visit their father since his arrest, for reasons unknown; Mrs. Sa'adat has now been authorized to visit her husband twice a month; the first time in March 2009, she was unable to visit him because she was in hospital and, when she tried to visit him in April 2009, she was unable to do so because he had been transferred to Ashkalon jail and was in solitary confinement,
Considering that the solitary confinement imposed on him in March 2009 was to last until June 2009; this measure together with other restrictions was reportedly taken to punish prisoners for the failure of the negotiations regarding the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured in June 2006 during a cross-border attack on Israeli military installations; considering further that, in protest against his solitary confinement, Mr. Sa’adat went on a nine-day hunger strike, which ended on 14 June 2009; that the administration of Ashkalon Prison held a hearing on the matter which Mr. Sa’adat refused to attend, as a result of which the prison administration reportedly imposed yet another set of very harsh restrictions on him, including denial of family visits and banning him from visiting the prison canteen and smoking, fined him 200 shekels and made him serve a further week in solitary confinement,
  1. Deplores thelong-term imposition of solitary confinement on Mr. Sa'adat as it may gravely impair his physical and psychological health, and is appalled that it may have been imposed not for any valid disciplinary reason but as retaliation for the failure of political negotiations;

  2. Recalls that solitary confinement may have serious effects on the health of prisoners and that international human rights bodies have in various instances concluded that prolonged periods of solitary confinement may amount to torture; urges the authorities to refrain from imposing it again and to restore Mr. Sa’adat’s rights to regular visits by his family and the rights accorded other prisoners;

  3. Recalls that, in conformity with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, no prisoner shall be punished except in accordance with the terms of a law or regulation and that, in its Article 7, the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners recommend the abolition of solitary confinement; calls on Israel to respect these principles and rules;

  4. Reaffirms that Mr. Sa'adat's abduction and transfer to Israel was related not to the murder charge but rather to his political activities as PFLP General Secretary, and that the proceedings against him were therefore based on extra-legal considerations; considers that the imposition of the extremely harsh sentence on him is further evidence of the political motives for his arrest and prosecution as the leader of a political party; calls on Israel to release him forthwith;

  5. Points out that Mr. Sa’adat was tried by a military court and recalls in this respect the consistent concerns which United Nations human rights treaty bodies and special procedures have expressed regarding the compliance of military courts with fair trial guarantees, such as most recently in the report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, on his visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (A/HRC/6/17/Add.4, 16 November 2007);

  6. Deeply regrets the silence of the parliamentary authorities with regard to the human rights concerns the IPU has expressed in this case and which reflect general human rights concerns regarding the treatment of Palestinian prisoners by the Israeli authorities; affirms that the Knesset has a duty to ensure respect for human rights and for Israel’s obligations as a party to international human rights treaties not only within Israel but also in the Territories that Israel occupies;

  7. Requests the Secretary General to inform the Israeli and Palestinian authorities and any other interested parties of this resolution;

  8. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 122nd IPU Assembly (March-April 2010).
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