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Joint “Stop the Wall” and Addameer Update on the Arrest of Jamal Juma’

Mardi, 5 janvier 2010 - 19h05

Tuesday 5 January 2010


Joint “Stop the Wall” and Addameer Update on the Arrest of Jamal Juma’, Human Rights Defender and Coordinator of the “Stop the Wall” Campaign

[Ramallah, 5 January 2010]

On 4 January 2010, an Israeli military court hearing at Ofer Military Court, located near the city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, extended the arbitrary detention of “Stop the Wall” Campaign Coordinator Jamal Juma’, aged 47, for a further four days, scheduling his next hearing at Ofer for the morning of Thursday, 7 January 2010. It has been 20 days since Jamal, a prominent Palestinian human rights defender, was arrested from his home in East Jerusalem and taken for interrogation.

In yesterday’s hearing before Israeli military judge Shmuel Fleishman, Jamal’s defense attorney Fathi Shbeitah argued against the validity of the prosecution’s “secret evidence”, to which the defense is denied any access. Advocate Shbeitah further reiterated his argument that the military courts do not have jurisdiction over Jamal, who, as a resident of occupied East Jerusalem, should instead be held under the jurisdiction of Israeli civil law.

However, the Israeli military courts have broad jurisdiction over the occupied Palestinian territory and can try Palestinians for offences committed not only in the OPT, but also those committed anywhere else. Thus, despite Israel’s claim of de facto annexation of East Jerusalem with the 1980 Jerusalem Law, military court jurisdiction can nonetheless be extended to Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem if their alleged offense was committed in or otherwise has ties to the West Bank. Regular practice shows that very little burden is placed on the prosecution to prove such a connection, and that arbitrary decisions are always taken to extend the interrogation period to the maximum, to allow the utmost flexibility for Israeli Security Agency (ISA) officers in their conduct during an interrogation and to reduce legal safeguards ensuring respect for international fair trial standards.

Addameer and Stop the Wall contend that the complicated legal distinctions between residents of the West Bank and East Jerusalem at issue in this case are a means by which Israeli authorities further the administrative fragmentation of the Palestinian people and the “annexation” of occupied East Jerusalem under the 1980 Jerusalem Law, which the UN Security Council determined legally null and void in Resolution 478. Although the interrogation police claim to have received authorization from both the Jerusalem public prosecutor’s office and the military prosecution to interrogate Jamal under the military orders, no documentation of that decision has been revealed to Jamal’s attorney to date.

At a previous hearing extending Jamal’s detention held on 24 December 2009, the military prosecution affirmed that it had completed its individual questioning of Jamal, but successfully requested an extension of Jamal’s detention to enable a wider investigation. Jamal addressed this issue at Monday’s hearing, and explained to the court that no investigator had approached him during the intervening 12 days he had been detained, after his initial eight days in Moskobiyya Interrogation Center in Jerusalem, also referred to as the “Russian Compound”. Thus, he explained, there was no call for his continued and inhuman detention for investigative purposes.

Jamal, who suffers from a delicate heart condition, also testified to the judge about the inhuman conditions of his detention at Moskobiyya. He placed particular emphasis on the severe humidity in his cell that he fears threatens his health. Jamal also equated his treatment, including the prison conditions, his detention without charge or trial and his bright orange prison suit, with the treatment levied against the detainees held by the United States in similar circumstances in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The investigating police officer representing the Israeli Security Agency failed to appear at the hearing Monday and, therefore, the judge was unable to hear reasons for the prosecution’s request for a further extension to Jamal’s detention. Nonetheless, presiding military judge Shmuel Fleishman granted a further four days’ extended detention, at which point the military prosecution side should have completed its investigation. Judge Fleishman based his decision on the “secret evidence” provided by prosecutors and security authorities, which he said provided sufficient reason to believe that Jamal’s release could “threaten public safety”. However, the military judge did order a medical examination of Jamal to take place within 24 hours of the hearing.

Unlike previous proceedings, at Monday’s hearing, Jamal was not blindfolded, so he was able to see the 45-50 observers that packed the courtroom’s small gallery. The observers included Jamal’s wife, Arab and international media, and representatives from Palestinian and Israeli civil society organizations, three different European consulates in Jerusalem, and Habitat International Coalition. The court denied entry to a fourth consular representative who arrived after the hearing started. During his address to the court requesting an end to his ongoing detention, Jamal also urged Palestinian human rights defenders not to be deterred by Israel’s arrest campaign and to continue their rightful protest against the Annexation Wall and its associated, unlawful regime.
Both Addameer and Stop the Wall believe that, given the pattern of such cases in the Israeli military courts, it is likely that only a token pretext will be offered as grounds to further extend Jamal’s incremental detention at the next hearing, scheduled for 7 January 2010. By order of an Israeli military judge, Palestinian political detainees can be held without charges for an initial period of up to 90 days. This period can be extended for another period of up to 90 days by request of the Chief Area Legal Advisor for the occupied Palestinian territory, via an order from the Military Court of Appeals.

Moreover, Addameer and Stop the Wall observe that Jamal Juma’ is the only latest in a series of arbitrary detainees in a recent wave of Israeli police actions apparently aimed at repressing human rights defenders in occupied Jerusalem and in the West Bank. A leading Palestinian human rights defender, Jamal is the coordinator of the Grassroots “Stop the Wall” Campaign and a founding member of several Palestinian civil society networks and nongovernmental organizations such as the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees. Jamal’s work has sought to stop the violations associated with the Annexation Wall built by Israel in the West Bank and Jerusalem, which has involved the defense of human rights to adequate housing and land, freedom of movement, livelihood, freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and decent work in the context of continuous displacement, demographic manipulation and population transfer. He has never before been charged or convicted of any offense.

Arrested on 16 December 2009, Jamal currently remains in detention without charge