Detaining Prisoners in Overcrowded Conditions Without Beds During a State of Emergency in Detention
The Association for Civil Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, and the Committee Against Torture petitioned the High Court on 23.10.2023 to cancel the directive allowing prison authorities to detain security and criminal detainees on the floor in overcrowded conditions during a state of emergency.
The directive stipulates that these measures will primarily be implemented against security detainees and will only be applied to criminal detainees when justified by the security situation. The petition argues that the directive allows prison authorities to overcrowd cells without beds inhumanely. This practice degrades prisoners, endangers their health, violates their privacy and autonomy, and increases friction among themselves. It is claimed that this constitutes a cruel, inhumane, and degrading punishment that is forbidden in all circumstances, even during emergencies. The directive also allegedly undermines the rights of security detainees and leads to inequality.
The directive was enacted against the backdrop of the conflict, resulting in the arrest of hundreds of Palestinians, most from the West Bank. However, the severe overcrowding issues in Israeli prisons existed long before the conflict, as the prisons were already holding nearly 2,000 more inmates than their intended capacity. The petition argued that rather than resorting to extreme measures that negate fundamental rights and dehumanize prisoners, the government should take action to reduce overcrowding in prisons and adopt previously proven and effective methods.
The petition was dismissed by the High Court.
The case number was 7650/23, "The Association for Civil Rights vs. Minister of National Security."
Attorneys representing the case were: Hagar Shechter, Gadeer Nicola, and Oded Feller.