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HaMoked and other human rights organization petition the HCJ: Palestinian “security” inmates must have regular phone contact with their families so long as the Coronavirus pandemic restricts prison visits

On December 30, 2020, HaMoked – together with Adalah, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights - Israel, Parents Against Child Detention and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel – petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to demand all Palestinian inmates classified as “security” prisoners or detainees, adults and minors alike, be allowed to maintain regular phone contact with their families so long as the Coronavirus pandemic continues.

The organizations also demanded that all inmates diagnosed with Covid-19 or in isolation due to contact with a verified patient be allowed to talk to their family on a regular basis until they get well, in order to update them about their health situation. Additionally, the organizations requested that all minors, particularly those held in isolation, be allowed to talk with their families frequently, as is done in the framework of the pilot project in Damon prison.

This is an amended petition, submitted following the HCJ’s decision of December 1, 2020, whereby, due to the factual and legal changes which had taken place since the original petition was filed in March 2020, soon after the pandemic broke out, the petitioners could file the petition anew regarding the possibility that for “security” prisoners and detainees who were entitled to receive family visits – now denied as a result of the various restrictions imposed due the spread of the Coronavirus – an alternative would be implemented to enable telephone contact with those same family members.

In the amended petition, HaMoked stressed that it concerns the right of inmates to minimal contact with their families during the Coronavirus crisis – ongoing for over 9 months now and with no end in sight – and given the consequent suspension of visits. HaMoked noted also that the ongoing emergency situation has resulted in harsh changes, which severely harm the constitutional rights of inmates, and do not comply with the principle of the child’s best interest.

It should be noted that following the original petition, the state announced that Palestinian minors would be allowed to talk with their families over the telephone for ten minutes once every two weeks so long as the coronavirus emergency situation continues. The court recorded this undertaking in its this decision of April 2, 2020. However, in practice, its seems that often minors were not given the opportunity to call their families. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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