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ISRAEL: ARBITRARY DETENTION OF PALESTINIAN MINOR MOHAMMAD MANSOUR BASED ON SECRET EVIDENCE

The International League Against Arbitrary Detention urges the Government of Israel to take all the necessary actions to implement the Opinion No. 4/2022 of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concerning Mohammad Ghassan Ahmad Mansour, starting with his immediate release and according him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.


Read the full WGAD Opinion concerning Mohammad Ghassan Ahmad Mansour (Israel): Opinion No. 4/2022


MINOR ARRESTED AND DETAINED WITH NO LEGAL BASIS


Mr. Mohammad Ghassan Ahmad Mansour, born in November 2003, is a Palestinian student in his final year of secondary school. He is the holder of an identification card issued by the Palestinian authorities and he usually resides in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin. Mr. Mansour, a 17-year-old boy at the time, was arrested at his home in Jenin at around 2 a.m. on 9 April 2021.


The Working Group expressed grave concern regarding the manner in which Mr. Mohammad Ghassan Ahmad Mansour was allegedly treated during his arrest and initial detention ; according to the source, Mr. Mansour was arrested in the middle of the night, hit on the head with a rifle and knocked to the floor, and his hands were tied painfully behind his back. He was allegedly grabbed from behind, kicked and blindfolded. He was transferred to Huwwara detention centre, where he was searched naked and then spent 15 days in detention in degrading and inhumane conditions, including without taking showers. In that regard, the Working Group is obliged to remind Israel that all persons deprived of their liberty must be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person in accordance with article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and article 37 (c) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Mr. Mohammad Ghassan Ahmad Mansour was a minor at the time of his arrest, and his detention for nearly a year placed him at risk of severe health problems.


Neither Mr. Mohammad Ghassan Ahmad Mansour nor his parents were provided with an arrest warrant or notified of the reasons for his arrest. The Working Group concluded that the arrest and detention of Mr. Mansour violated article 9 (1) and (2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This was also a violation of article 37 (b) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which provides that no child shall be deprived of liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily and that the arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law. Moreover, since his arrest on 9 April 2021, the Israeli military authorities have not charged Mr. Mohammad Ghassan Ahmad Mansour with a crime and have not informed him of the nature and cause of his detention. Hence, the Working Group considered that there has been a further violation of the right to be promptly informed of the charges under article 9 (2) of the Covenant and to be informed promptly and directly of the charges under article 40 (2) (b) (ii) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.


Therefore, the Working Group concluded that the arrest and detention of Mr. Mohammad Ghassan Ahmad Mansour lacked legal basis and was arbitrary under category I. The Working group also recalled that detention of a child must only be a measure of last resort applied for the shortest appropriate period of time.


DETAINED BASED ON SECRET INFORMATION IN VIOLATION OF HIS RIGHT TO CHALLENGE THE LAWFULNESS OF HIS DETENTION


In addition, neither Mr. Mohammad Ghassan Ahmad Mansour nor his lawyer have been provided with access to any evidence against him. Mr. Mohammad Ghassan Ahmad Mansour’s detention was reportedly based on “secret information” relied upon by the Israeli military court judges to issue and confirm the two administrative detention orders against him to date. It appeared from the accusations made against Mr. Mansour during his interrogation that he may be suspected of possessing a weapon, shooting and conspiring to carry out a shooting attack, as well as being in charge of an Islamic jihad military cell, but this has not been confirmed through an indictment.


The Working Group found that Mr. Mohammad Ghassan Ahmad Mansour has been held in administrative detention for nearly a year since his arrest on 9 April 2021 without the ability to effectively challenge the lawfulness of his detention, contrary to article 9 (4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and article 37 (d) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.


DETAINED BASED ON SECRET EVIDENCE BY MILITARY TRIBUNALS LACKING INDEPENDENCE AND IMPARTIALITY


In the present case, Mr. Mohammad Ghassan Ahmad Mansour, a child of 17 years of age at the time of his arrest, has been held in administrative detention in prison for nearly a year without being charged, in conditions similar to those imposed on individuals serving a criminal sentence. The Working Group regarded his detention as penal in nature and noted that he appeared before the Salem military court in Israel, where his detention was extended on at least five different occasions, rather than by a court specifically equipped to deal with juveniles within the civilian legal system. His administrative detention order was also upheld on appeal by the Israeli Military Court of Appeals in August 2021.


The Working Group recalled that in previous cases concerning Israel, the Working Group has emphasized that military courts and tribunals are not independent or impartial because they are composed of military personnel who are subject to military discipline and dependent on their superiors for promotion. The Working Group has also set out minimum guarantees pertaining to military justice, including that military tribunals should only be competent to try military personnel for military offences, and not civilians.


Therefore, the Working Group did not consider that Israeli military courts meet the standard of an independent and impartial tribunal for the purposes of considering matters involving civilians. Accordingly, the Working Group found that Mr. Mohammad Ghassan Ahmad Mansour was deprived of the right to have his matter determined in a fair hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal under article 14 (1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and article 40 (2) (b) (iii) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.


Moreover, Mr. Mohammad Ghassan Ahmad Mansour’s detention was based on secret information to which neither he nor his lawyer was given access. The Working Group recalled that every individual deprived of liberty has the right to access material related to their detention, including information that may assist the detainee in arguing that the detention is not lawful or that the reasons for the detention no longer apply. Given that the Government has not provided an explanation of the nature of the secret evidence against Mr. Mansour, nor any justification as to why he could not be provided with access to it, the Working Group found that the failure to provide full access to the evidence has violated Mr. Mohammad Ghassan Ahmad Mansour’s right to a fair trial and the equality of arms under articles 14 (1), 14 (3) (b) and (e) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and article 40 (2) (b) (iii) and (iv) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.


The Working Group concluded that these fair trial violations are of such gravity as to give Mr. Mohammad Ghassan Ahmad Mansour’s arrest and detention an arbitrary character under category III.


A PATTERN OF DISCRIMINATORY PERSECUTION ON THE GROUND OF NATIONAL, ETHNIC AND SOCIAL ORIGIN AS WELL AS GENDER


The Working Group has noted a pattern by the Israeli authorities of using administrative detention to detain Palestinians on an indefinite basis without charge or trial. The Working Group found that Mr. Mohammad Ghassan Ahmad Mansour, who is Palestinian, was detained on a discriminatory basis, namely his national, ethnic and social origin. The Working Group considered that he was also detained on the basis of his gender, as there is a clear pattern of targeting young males for detention. In these circumstances, the Working Group concluded that the Government has violated articles 2 and 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 2 (1) and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and that Mr. Mansour’s detention is arbitrary under category V.


CONCLUSIONS OF THE UN WORKING GROUP AGAINST ARBITRARY DETENTION


In light of the foregoing, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considered that the detention of Mr. Mohammad Ghassan Ahmad Mansour is arbitrary and falls under categories I, III and V because his deprivation of liberty was in contravention of articles 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 2 (1) and (3), 9, 14 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recommended that the Government of Israel take the steps necessary to remedy the situation of Mr. Mansour without delay and bring it into conformity with the relevant international norms, starting with his immediate release and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.



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