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State Violates HCJ Ruling on Overcrowding in Prisons

The High Court of Justice ruled on a petition filed in 2014 by ACRI and the Academic Center for Law and Business in Ramat Gan on June 13, 2017 regarding overcrowding in Israeli prisons. The Court ruled that within 18 months the State should allocate a living space of 4.5 square meters to each prisoner, including toilet and shower, or 4 square meters not including toilet and shower. Currently, each prisoner is only allocated 3.1 square meters, including toilet and shower. About 40% of the prisoners are imprisoned in an area that amounts to less than 3 square meters per person, and the severe overcrowding amounts to cruel and inappropriate punishment.


Three years later, the State continues to violate the ruling on the overcrowding in prisons, requesting to postpone implementation.


Background:


In June of 2017, the High Court judges ruled, following a petition we filed, that within nine months the state must guarantee each detainee a living space of 3 square meters (excluding the toilet and shower), and within 18 months the state must allocate every prisoner and detainee a living space of 4.5 square meters. Including toilet and shower, or 4 sqm not including toilet and shower.


The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and the Academic Center for Law and Business in Ramat Gan welcomed the High Court’s decision to set a new standard for prisons: “This is great news for the rights of prisoners and detainees. Human rights do not stop at the gates of the prison, and the State must ensure the human dignity of prisoners and detainees. The current situation harms the health of the prisoners, leads to increased violence, and harms the chances of the prisoners being rehabilitated,” said Attorney Anne Suciu of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.


But since then the State has been trying to delay the execution of the verdict. In March of 2018, a week before the deadline for the first phase of the ruling expired, the State submitted a request to postpone the implementation by 10 years, until 2027. The judges sharply criticized the State's conduct, ordering it submit a plan to increase each detainee's living space to the court to 3 sqm in a timely and reasonable schedule.


The State submitted a plan and requested to postpone the implementation of the ruling. The State requested a hearing on the matter, which will take place on December 12, 2020.