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Action Alert: Palestinian reports sexual harassment in Israeli jail

Women’s Organization for Political Prisoners (WOFPP)

19 September 2009

Since the last month WOFPP has accompanied, with deep concern, the minor political prisoner who complained of sexual harassment by one of the guards in Hasharon Prison where she was held.

WOFPP’s lawyer, Taghreed Jahshan, visited the prisoner many times during the recent period and has sent a very urgent letter, on 6 September 2009, to the Prisons Service Commissioner, with copies to the Central Area’s Commander and other persons of the Service Prison staff and to the Chairman of the Bar Association’s Prisons Committee.

Since there was no reply, another urgent letter was sent on 14 September, and again it had not been answered in writing.

The letter raised serious claims of the prisoner – verified by affidavit – according to which, following the complaint she has submitted, the Prisons Service harassed the prisoner, by transferring her to another prison to the isolation/separation wing in which criminal prisoners are being held, without any legal basis, and holding her in inhuman conditions: a stuffy, very damp cell, without any sunlight, without TV, ventilator, books (except one book she brought with her) and without handicraft materials. The prison authorities also had taken from the prisoner her head coverings. In addition, there were many ants in the cell that disturbed her sleep at night. In fact, the prisoner sat about 24 hours a day facing the walls without anything to occupy herself with.

All these details were reported in a letter to the Prisons Service Commissioner; however he did not see fit to reply in writing concerning these claims. Even worse, probably following the letter, insecticide was sprayed in the wing. The prisoner was taken out of her cell for a few minutes and, immediately after the spraying, she was returned. As a result, she was overcome by feelings of suffocation and dizziness for some hours, and she continued to feel chest pain.

Only on 15/9/09, after a month during which the prisoner was held in the conditions described above, she was transferred to a cell with reasonable conditions, but still in the same isolation/separation wing.

These last days, staff members in charge at the prison where the prisoner is detained, made telephone contact with attorney Jahshan and told her that the most senior ranks handle the matter of the prisoner, aiming to find a solution for her by transferring her from the wing which she is held in.

Our position is clear in this matter: a political prisoner should be in a political prisoners’ wing – there is no other solution.

The same staff members promised attorney Jahshan to update her on Monday 21 September 2009. If the decision that will be taken will not meet the required objective, a plea in the prisoner’s name will immediately be submitted to the court.

Regarding the prisoner’s complaint against sexual harassment (attorney Jahshan represents her also in this matter): The prisoner says that she will continue to fight until the guard will get the punishment he deserves.

It should be noted that WOFPP is in close and continuous contact with the prisoner’s family which is updated on every detail.

The minor prisoner has been held in isolation/separation for over a month and probably will have to spend the holiday of Eid-elFiter alone.

Isolation/separation is a kind of torture

Please write letters of protest to the Israel Prisons Service:

Prisons Service Commissioner
P.O. Box 81
Ramle 72100
Israel
Fax: +972-8-9193800

And to the Israeli embassy in your country.

Please forward a copy to WOFPP: E-mail address: [email protected]