Al-Quds Bard College, Al-Quds University, Palestine

Israeli Supreme Court renders its judgment in Secret Prison ‘Facility 1391’ (Israel’s Guantanamo) case

See the update on HaMoked’s website, here.

23.1.2011

Finally, seven years after HaMoked’s petition against the secret prison, known as “Facility 1391”, the HCJ justices issue their ruling: the petition has been denied given the official classified arrangement purported to minimize the extent the facility is used and restrict the possibility to use it for interrogations

In 2003, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ), demanding to shut down the secret prison “Facility 1391”. HaMoked argued, as it has ever since, that a string of express provisions in Israeli and international law alike, forbid the operation of a secret prison facility. This is a military intelligence prison, operated in complete secrecy for many years, chiefly used for the imprisonment and interrogation of foreign detainees. When HaMoked attempted to trace detainees who were held therein, the military supplied only false, partial or deceptive replies. Following HaMoked’s habeas corpus petitions, the existence of the Facility was revealed, along with the harsh detention conditions prevalent therein.

The State Attorney’s Office provided a supplementary notice as part of the proceedings, in which it announced a newly established  arrangement, which considerably minimized the use of Facility 1391 for holding detainees. The details of the arrangement, classified for the most part, establish, inter alia, that residents of Israel or the Territories would not be held in the Facility; individuals would be held there for “a limited and extremely brief period”; incarceration there requires “high rank” authorization and notifying the Attorney General. Furthermore, in an ex parte hearing, the state presented to the court, procedures purported to ensure the rights of detainees: the facility is inspected by government bodies and may also be inspected by members of the Knesset’s Secret Services Subcommittee of Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

The judgment details at length the developments in the running of the secret prison since after the petition was submitted, nonetheless, it completely ignores the previous state of affaires. The court wholly evades the issue of the past treatment of detainees in the facility as well as questions such as who knew the facility existed and about those held there. Recall, the petition was initially filed due to the military’s nondisclosure of detainees’ whereabouts, providing instead false replies.

On its course to legalizing the secret prison, the Supreme Court has erected secret legislation and secret judicial decisions. The detainees in Facility 1391 are not outside the protection of the law, but the law in their defense is to remain secret, therefore, effectively unenforceable.

For HaMoked’s Court Watch commentary of the judgment

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