PSP Coordinator Held for 6 More Months In Administrative Detention

25 January 2007

Yousef Abu Maria was first arrested in June 2006 for organizing non-violent demonstrations against the Apartheid Wall in Beit Ommar. After nearly 2 months he was brought before a military court and “sentenced” to 6 months in prison (including “time served”). He was not tried in a court, nor was he given an opportunity to defend himself. This is because Yousef is being held in Administrative Detention, an extra-legal option for the Shabak (Israeli intelligence) to hold Palestinians indefinitely without trial. Last week, when Yousef was scheduled to be released, the Shabak requested in a military court that he be held an additional 6 months as a “security risk”. It is nearly impossible for Palestinians to defend themselves against an order of Administrative Detention because the Shabak is not required to present its evidence in open court or to a defendant’s lawyer.

There are approximately 650 Palestinians in Administrative Detention, a relatively small percentage of the Palestinian prisoner population, but Administrative Detention is Shabak’s method of choice in attempting to prevent any Palestinian dissent. In 2004 an Israeli spokesperson admitted that “inciting against the fence” was grounds for Administrative Detention, though Shabak insists it is only used in rare cases and its purpose is to prevent “terrorism”.

Administrative Detention is usually ordered in 3 month intervals but there is no limit to the number of times Shabak can request it be continued. In some cases Palestinians have been held up to 3 years in Administrative Detention. Shabak holds people under these orders with no intention of bringing them to a court where they can refute the Shabak’s information. It is in clear violation of international law, including agreements Israel itself has signed. In some cases Palestinians have been held up to 3 years in Administrative Detention. Shabak holds people under these orders with no intention of bringing them to a court where they can adequately defend themselves.

Yousef is the sole provider for his family. His father is blind and his family is unable to work their land their only source of income.