|PCHR Strongly Condemns the Arbitrary Detention of Young Men and Cutting of their Hair by the Palestinian Police in Gaza|
|Sunday, 07 April 2013 00:00|
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the arbitrary detention of a number of young men and the cutting of their hair over the past days, by the Palestinian police in Gaza. The police has detained and attacked several men over the past days, stating that the hairstyle of these men was indecent. PCHR calls upon the Attorney General in Gaza to open investigations into these attacks, cases of arbitrary detention, and violation of civil rights of citizens. PCHR also calls upon the government in Gaza to respect citizens' liberties, which are guaranteed under international human rights law.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, over the three past days, the Palestinian police stopped a number of young men, who were walking in different areas in the Gaza Strip, and took them to police stations under the pretext that their hairstyle was "indecent". The hair of the men was cut while they were in detention. Some of the men also beaten while in detention. Finally, the detainees were forced to sign a statement declaring they would not grow long hair or have a strange hairstyle, or wear "low-waisted trousers" again.
A victim stated the following to a PCHR's fieldworker:
"I finished my work at approximately 16:30 on Thursday, 04 April 2013, and took a taxi to al-Shuja'iya taxi stand, east of Gaza City. While waiting for another taxi to take me home, I was surprised that a policeman called me and ordered me to get into a police jeep. There were about 12 other young men inside the jeep and no one knew the reason of his detention. We were transported to al-Shuja'iya police station. Meanwhile, one detainee was beaten by a policeman. At the police station, they ordered us to stand in a queue and they were making fun of our hairstyles using abusive words. When a detainee protested, he was beaten. The policemen started cutting a young man's hair and I was the next one to have his hair cut. All young men had their hair cut. I then signed a statement saying I would not grow long hair or have strange hairstyle or wear low waist trousers. I left the police station at approximately 18:30 on the same day."
On Saturday, 06 April 2013, Eng. Ihab al Ghussain, Head of the Governmental Information Office, posted on his Facebook page that: "after referring to all the official authorities, I can confirm that the police did not launch the alleged campaign. What is discussed is a campaign launched by the Islamic Bloc namely (My morals … Secret of my success), in which they address certain forms of negative behavior such as wearing low-waisted trousers, the use of media calls […]. I request everybody to refer to official authorities when receiving any information."
In this context, PCHR confirms that:
1. Private liberties are constitutionally guaranteed under the Palestinian Basic Law and should not be violated based on the evaluation of law enforcement officers regarding the appearance of civilians. Article 11 of the Palestinian Basic Law stipulates that: "1. Private liberties constitute a basic right that is guaranteed and should not be harmed".
2. Citizens should not be arrested, searched, detained, or otherwise have their liberty restricted unless through a judicial order issued by the Attorney General or a competent court according to the abovementioned Article, which stipulates that: "2. No one shall be arrested, searched or detained […] unless by a judicial order in accordance with provisions of the law…"
3. The beating of detainees by government officials can amount to torture, and therefore criminal or civil complaints related to these cases will not fall under the Statute of Limitations according to article 32 of the Palestinian Basic Law.
In light of the above, PCHR:
1. Calls upon the Attorney General in Gaza to investigate the above mentioned actions which violate the civil liberties of citizens, including detainees;
2. Calls upon the government in Gaza to take the necessary measures to stop the violation of civil and political liberties by law enforcement officers; and
3. Calls upon the Palestinian Security Services to respect the basic human rights that are guaranteed under international human rights law.
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