Mandela prisoners foundation urges inquiry into prisons

Maan News Agency | July 15, 2012

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The Nelson Mandela Foundation for Political Prisoners called on Saturday for an international inquiry into the situation in Israeli prisons and for an international conference about prisoners.

Speaking in Amman, Jordan in testimony to a UN committee to investigate Israeli violations of human rights in the prisons, head of the Ramallah-based foundation Buthaina Duqmaq said Israel wanted to “isolate” detainees from the rest of the world.

Duqmaq called on the international community to intervene, saying there had been no mentionable improvement to the situation, according to a press statement from the foundation.

She said Israeli authorities were still committing violations against prisoners even after their hunger strikes, and presented testimony and letters from prisoners as evidence.

Duqmaq said there are more than 1,200 families unable to visit their loved ones, while prisoners from Gaza are the more isolated due to sanctions placed on them in a bid to speed up the release of an Israeli soldier.

She called on the secretary-general of the UN to hold an urgent conference on the matter.

Meanwhile the Palestinian Authority prisoners minister that the Israeli Prison Service would allow the families of 25 Gaza prisoners to visit their loved ones in jail on an “experimental basis.”

Issa Qaraqe said the families will be able to visit starting July 16 but will be limited. There is still some opposition to letting Gaza’s 473 prisoners receive visits, he said.

Some of the limitations put in place include a ban on children while the Rimon prison is not allowed visitors at all, the official said, calling Israel’s policy toward detainees “collective punishment.”

Israel started limiting what it considers privileges for Hamas and Gaza prisoners in a bid to put pressure on Hamas to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held in Gaza until last fall.

The visitors issue was one of the key demands of the hundreds of prisoners who went on a hunger strike in the spring.

In a deal to end the strike, Israeli authorities agreed to allow limited personal visits.



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