ACRI to Attorney General: End the Isolation of the New Prisoner X

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The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) sent an urgent letter to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein demanding his immediate intervention in a new case involving a prisoner whose identity is being withheld. ACRI urges the Attorney General to take measures to end to the prisoner’s dangerous isolation, lift the sweeping media blackout concerning the case, and establish clear guidelines to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.


In the letter, Attorney Lila Margalit, Director of ACRI’s Human Rights in the Criminal Process Program, referred to a report prepared by the Israeli Prison Services and the Ministry of Internal Security that found that keeping prisoners in prolonged isolation causes long-term psychotic effects and has severe physical consequences for the prisoners. Following the recommendations formulated in the report, the prison guidelines were updated to contain practices based on the principle that isolation is to be used only a last resort.


The letter further states that in a democratic country, secret arrests and trials are not acceptable. While there are exceptional situations in which there is justification for the imposition of a media blackout on an ongoing investigation for a limited time, the moment a person is arrested – and certainly once brought to trial – there is no possible justification for such sweeping secrecy. Even if there is justification for certain details to remain confidential for security reasons, basic details such as the fact that a person was arrested and brought to justice, the court in which he was tried, and his sentence cannot be kept secret.


Attorney Lila Margalit: “We cannot accept a situation in which a man is arrested, tried, and imprisoned in complete secrecy, and prevented from any possibility of contact with other persons on a daily basis. The ‘Prisoner X’ affairs prove again that without public scrutiny, it is impossible to safeguard the rights of suspected, accused or convicted persons. Just as sunlight is the best disinfectant, darkness and secrecy are fertile ground for serious violations of the most fundamental human rights. Hopefully, reports that the prisoner is receiving visits from his family and attorney are true, but that is not enough – the utmost effort must be made to insure that the prisoner comes into contact with other human beings on a daily basis.”


Related Materials

Attorney Margalit’s letter to the Attorney General (in English).

Background information on ACRI’s involvement in the original Prisoner X affair.

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Categories: Anti-Democratic Initiatives, Democracy and Civil Liberties, Due Process, Freedom of Information

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