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4 July 2006

Following the adoption of Law 5765 – 2006 “Criminal Procedure (Enforcement Powers – Detention) (Detainees Suspected of Security Offences) (Temporary Provision)” on 27 June 2006 by the Israeli Knesset, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Martin Scheinin, made the following statement today:

“I am pleased to note that many of the criticisms voiced by different stakeholders including civil society have been addressed in the draft that was finally adopted. In March 2006, I raised some issues in a communication to the State of Israel in relation to the previous draft law. In particular, the provisions relating to the discriminatory scope of application solely to non-residents of the State of Israel, and those relating to the period of practical incommunicado detention – originally proposed as 40 days – and access to a lawyer have been amended. I view this as a positive example of responsiveness to international concern.

“However, some of the concerns remain: the law still does not provide all the necessary procedural safeguards for individuals detained for security reasons. In particular, the law provides that an individual may be held in detention for up to 96 hours before being brought before a judge and may not be present in court when a decision on the extension of the detention is made during the period when he is barred from contact with a legal counsel. In addition, while the provisions on access to legal counsel have not been worsened by this new law, the 21 days of detention without access to legal counsel authorised by the detention law currently in force remain incompatible with international human rights law.

“Fully conscious of the fact that States’ obligation to protect and promote human rights requires them to take effective measures to combat terrorism, I wish to recall that States have the duty to ensure that any such measure comply with their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights law. The right to the liberty of the person as enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights requires access to legal counsel immediately after arrest. I call upon the Israeli Government to ensure that this provision is fully respected in law and practice.”