Al-Maqdese launched the project “Reducing violations of Jerusalemite prisoners’ rights in Israeli prisons” from October 2010 until April 2011. The project which is funded by NDC, is part of the human rights and good governance program funded by three European governments, Swedish government, Danish governments and Swiss government.
The importance of the project stems from the escalation of violations of Jerusalemite prisoners’ rights inside prisons and the increase in the gap in meeting the legal needs to provide support and guidance to prisoners. In addition, Israeli authorities are continuously setting laws and procedures (Shalit law for example) aiming to violate the basic human rights of prisoners prescribed in International conventions, especially the third Geneva Convention. Based on Al-Maqdese analysis to various work sectors in East Jerusalem, it was concluded that several organizations offer legal aid to prisoners at the moment of arrest. However, there is a clear gap in legal defense provided for Palestinian prisoners after their prosecution and sentence in prisons. In this regard, Al-Maqdese works to fill this gap by receiving several requests from the prisoner’s families seeking legal aid due to the absence of legal frameworks which follow-up on legal issues of Jerusalemites in Israeli prisons.
Meanwhile, Israel is imposing restrictions on prisoners and their families through measures adopted by the prison’s affair administration and by issuing rules and laws violating the rights of Palestinian prisoners. Hence, Al-Maqdese works to implement this project to reduce violations committed against prisoners, enable them enjoy their rights through advocating their rights and offering them with legal aid to provide them with better living conditions.
The prisoners’ project aims to improve the living conditions of prisoners from Jerusalem who have been sentenced and incarcerated in Israeli prisons. The project carried out two major activities: firstly, it conducted a detailed survey of the needs of Jerusalem prisoners to develop a comprehensive database about them due to the lack in information provided on Palestinian prisoners.We monitored violations committed against them during their prison sentences, document their suffering, and identify their legal needs accordingly. Secondly, we provided them with legal representation in front of different Israeli courts with reference to the information in our database. A number of the prisoners’ individual cases was prioritized and defended through direct legal representation in courts, for instance: third term courts, duration cases, health cases, or education cases.In addition, many other Palestinian prisoners, not just those from Jerusalem, benefitted from the legal representation of our collective cases. For example, we succeeded to defend prisoners’ rights to study in Palestinian universities not only in the Open University of Israel. We also worked to improve the food quality within the prisons so that they are more nutritionally balanced. This project covered all of the prisons in Israel.