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PA: UN wants Israel to admit secret prison


November 23, 2009 - – The UN has sent an official request to Israel to admit the existence of secret prison camp 1391, dubbed in the press "Israel’s Guantanamo Bay," according to the Palestinian Authority minister of prisoners affairs. Minister Issa Qaraqe told a news conference in Ramallah on Saturday that the UN had asked the Israeli government in a letter to officially acknowledge that the facility. Human rights experts with the United Nations Committee Against Torture questioned Israeli officials about the facility in may when the country came up for a regular review under a treaty obligation, Reuters reported.--

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PA: UN wants Israel to admit secret prison

Ma'an News

23sc39235.jpg

November 23, 2009

Ramallah – Ma’an – The UN has sent an official request to Israel to admit the existence of secret prison camp 1391, dubbed in the press "Israel’s Guantanamo Bay," according to the Palestinian Authority minister of prisoners affairs.

Minister Issa Qaraqe told a news conference in Ramallah on Saturday that the UN had asked the Israeli government in a letter to officially acknowledge that the facility.

Human rights experts with the United Nations Committee Against Torture questioned Israeli officials about the facility in may when the country came up for a regular review under a treaty obligation, Reuters reported.

Although Israel declined the UN’s request to discuss 1391 earlier this year, Israeli officials have indirectly confirmed the facility's existence. Former Israeli Justice Minister Dan Merridor told the Haaretz newspaper that he was aware of the site but never visited it.

News reports say that Israel has held Palestinians, Lebanese, and other Arabs at the site. The detention of Palestinians there reportedly increased during the second intifada. Former inmates told the Guardian newspaper that they were held in black, windowless cells with little light.

After being detained and transported to the prison wearing hoods, prisoners said they were told they were "in Honolulu," "outside the borders of Israel," or "on the moon," the newspaper said. The government has even airbrushed ariel photographs and altered maps to conceal the facility’s existence, according to the report.

In interviews with the Israeli and foreign press, former prisoners have also reported cases of rape, prolonged nudity, and tactics regarded as torture. Unlike other Israeli prisons, the Red Cross is not allowed to visit the facility.

Prisoner release?

Asked about Israeli news reports that the country could release Palestinian prisoners ahead of the Muslim Eid Al-Adha holiday next week, Qaraqe said that the PA has not received any official information on the subject. He added that Israel has decided to release prisoners in the past without informing the PA, and that it’s possible that some could be freed.

Qaraqe also spoke about the Palestinian Authority-sponsored conference on the plight of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails which will be held in Jericho on Tuesday. He said forty people and thirteen institutions will participate in the summit, which will address subjects such as the torture of women and children, prisoners’ rights, and efforts to seek international designation of the Palestinian detainees as prisoners of war, not terrorists.

Qaraqe was also asked about the health condition of a detainee named Nahed Al-Aqra, who was accused of blowing up an Israeli tank in Gaza. Qaraqe responded, "The ministry is following up the difficult health condition of Al-Aqra. The ministry also entered a petition with the High Court of Justice demanding his release along with that of other sick prisoners including Akram Mansour." He also said that the Red Cross is working for the release of ill prisoners.





:: Article nr. 60405 sent on 24-nov-2009 01:13 ECT

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