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European Parliamentarians Call for the Freeing of Palestinian Prisoners

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RAMALLAH, April 29, 2013 (WAFA) – The European Parliaments Delegation for relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council Monday called after the conclusion of the two-day conference on Palestinian prisoners held in Ramallah for the freeing of Palestinian political prisoners from Israeli jails.

The conference, Freedom and Dignity, focused on the situation and political role of Palestinian prisoners while marking 11 years for the arrest of Fatah leader and Palestinian parliament member, Marwan Barghouti.

 The EP members said in a statement that holding more than 4800 Palestinians in Israeli jails, including women and children and some held since before the 1993 Oslo agreement, along with members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, among them Marwan Barghouti, will have “a major impact on Palestinian society as well as on peace prospects between Israelis and Palestinians.”

“We call therefore for an immediate release of Palestinian political prisoners, including all detained members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and we remain convinced that a substantial release of Palestinian prisoners and detainees could be a positive contribution to trust-building between both sides,” said the EP members.

They said that holding Palestinians in prisons and detention centers that are located inside Israel “clearly violates the Fourth Geneva Convention and creates huge obstacles to family visits.”

The statement called on the Israeli authorities to respect the prisoners' right to family visit.

The European parliamentarians denounced Israel’s use of administrative detention, whereby it holds Palestinians in jail without formal charge or trial. “We call for an immediate end to this practice and call upon Israel to ensure that all Palestinian detainees be charged and brought to a fair trial, with judicial guarantees in accordance with international standards, or be promptly released.”

The statement also called on Israel “to protect Palestinian prisoners’ health and lives, in line with her obligations under international law and the rule of law.”

They urged Israel “to open independent, impartial and transparent investigations into all cases of allegations of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of Palestinian prisoners as well as to make the findings of such investigations public and to hold accountable those responsible for such acts.”

The statement also called for providing proper treatment for women prisoners and to put an end to the ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the military detention centers.

The EP members called on the European Union “to monitor closely the situation of Palestinian detainees and raise this issue at all levels of dialogue with Israel.”

They also called for sending a European Parliament fact-finding mission “to assess detention conditions of Palestinian prisoners and the practice of administrative detention by Israel, as mentioned in the resolution the Parliament adopted on 14 March 2013.”

They said that “ Israel's commitment to respect its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law vis à vis Palestinians, in the light of Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, must be taken into full consideration in the Union's bilateral relations with the country.”

The EP Delegation is composed of the chair Emer Costello (S&D, IE) Veronique De Keyser (S&D, B), Alexandra Thein (ALDE, DE), Nicole Kiil-Nielsen (Greens/EFA, F), and Georgios Toussas (GUE/NGL, GR).

M.S.

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