Palestinian Academic and Writer Faces Arbitrary Administrative Detention

June 5, 2011

Israel, Middle East, Palestine

ISRAEL- PALESTINE.– On 19 May, a military judge confirmed a four-month administrative detention order for Palestinian academic Ahmad Qatamesh.

Generally, administrative detention orders are subject to review by a military judge within eight days. In Ahmad Qatamesh’s case, the judge did not issue her decision to confirm the order until 19 May when she reduced the length from six to four months. 

The judge acknowledged that the original order of 3 May had contained factual errors and had been produced for another detainee and adapted for use in Ahmad Qatamesh’s case. Regardless, she concluded that the ISA’s secret evidence against him justified his detention for security reasons.

Neither Ahmad Qatamesh nor his lawyer is permitted to see the “evidence” against him.

He was arrested on 21 April at 2am at the house where he was staying in al-Bireh, in Ramallah. The security forces had first gone to his family’s home to arrest him. When they did not find him there they broke down the door of the neighbor’s house to search for him. According to his daughter, the security forces ordered her at gunpoint to telephone Qatamesh. Ahmad Qatamesh then gave the security forces directions to the house where he was staying so they could arrest him.

Ahmad Qatamesh is an academic and writer who has previously criticized both the Israeli authorities and the Palestinian Authority. Ahmad was arrested and claimed to have been tortured by the IDF in 1992. He was held for a year before being placed under administrative detention after a judge had ordered his release on bail. He was eventually released on 15 April 1998.

Administrative detention is an Israeli procedure under which detainees are held without charge or trial for periods of up to six months which are renewable indefinitely. No criminal charges are filed against administrative detainees and there is no intention of bringing them to trial.

The detainees are held on the basis of “secret evidence” which the Israeli military authorities claim cannot be revealed for security reasons. The “secret evidence” is not made available to detainees or their lawyers, and detainees cannot challenge the reasons for their detention.

The Israeli authorities have used administrative detention against thousands of Palestinians for the past several decades, though the number of administrative detainees has decreased slightly over the last three years.

Amnesty International is concerned that he may be detained solely because of his peaceful expression of his political views.

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