Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Al Mezan) condemns the detention of Marwa Al Masri, 45, banning her from travel, and denying her access to a lawyer by security apparatus in Gaza. Al Masri is a member of the General Assembly of the General Union of Palestinian Women (GUPW).
According to Al Mezan’s investigations, at approximately 8 am on Wednesday, 20 April 2016, Al Masri left for Erez crossing on her way to attend the GUPW General Assembly in Ramallah. She was turned back at the Palestinian side of the crossing and asked to go to the Internal Security Apparatus (ISA) office in Gaza City. She went there promptly bt was arrested there.
At Approximately 9 am on Thursday, 21 April 2016, the ISA summoned Al Masri’s husband, Abdel Hameed Al Masri, 57 and member of Fatah Revolutionary Council. He was detained for seven hours before he was released. Mrs. Al Masri’s son, Ali, 17, was contacted by phone and summoned at around 10 am on the same day. He was detained for two hours before his release.
Since after the arrest of Al Masri Al Mezan’s lawyer has requested to visit her. Initially the lawyer was denied access to her under claims that she was being held for a 48-hour period of investigation by the military prosecution. After the 48 hours elapsed, Al Mezan’s lawyer was denied access to the detainee again.
Al Mezan emphasizes that the ISA is not a competent authority in this case, as it does not have legal judicial enforcement powers. Nor can the military prosecution be considered competent, since its role is confined to military and security personnel only.
The human rights to free movement, participation in political life, and free expression are rights protected under Palestinian Basic Law. Article (11) of the Palestinian Basic Law stipulates that “Personal freedom is a natural right, shall be guaranteed and may not be violated,” and that “It is unlawful to arrest, search, imprison, restrict the freedom, or prevent the movement of any person, except by judicial order in accordance with the provisions of the law. The law shall specify the period of pre-arrest detention. Imprisonment or detention shall only be permitted in places that are subject to laws related to the organization of prisons”.
Preventing Al Mezan's lawyer - who has been assigned by Al Masri’s family - access to the detainee constitutes a clear breach of the law and the detainee’s rights. The law allows lawyers to be present during his/her client’s interrogation, provided that the lawyer does not intervene. Al Mezan also affirms that the military court is incompetent, since it has no jurisdiction outside the scope of military affairs. Therefore, the military prosecution’s handling of the case constitutes a breach of the Palestinian Basic Law, and has no legal grounds to detain Al Masri.
Al Mezan strongly condemns the arrest and detention of Al Masri and the refusal to allow visitation of her lawyer and family members. Al Mezan demands her immediate release and calls on the public prosecution to open an investigation into the infringements on her freedom of movement and into the proceedings of her arrest and detention. Al Mezan demands that each individual involved in this case be subject to credible investigation.