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PCHR Denounces Anti-Drug Police Raids and Searches on Customers in Cafés in Gaza City

Ref: 65/2013

 

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
(PCHR) denounces the Anti-Drug Police’s raids on a number of cafés, arbitrary
and degrading search campaigns against café customers and the attack of a
civilian.  PCHR calls upon the government
in Gaza to issue firm decisions in order put an end to the illegal and
degrading measures that violate the safety and tranquility of civilians. In
addition, PCHR calls upon the Attorney General to investigate these incidents,
including the attack on a civilian.

 

According to investigations conducted by
PCHR and testimonies of a number of café owners and eyewitnesses, on Monday and
Tuesday evening, 17 and 18 June 2013, the Anti-Drug Police raided a number of
cafés: al-Karawan café and Ranoush café in Omar al-Mukhtar Street in the west
of Gaza City; al-Sawafiri and Arafat café and Istanbul café in the Sheikh
Ejleen neighborhood on Gaza beach; and Tal al-Qamar café near the al-Maqousi
neighborhood, north of Gaza City.  The
Anti-drug officers, who were in uniform, pointed their guns inside the cafés.
They also ordered the workers and customers to stand up to be searched and also
searched the cafés’ contents. The Anti-drug officers justified their practices
by looking for Tramadol drug.

 

An eyewitness stated that at
approximately 19:30 on Monday, 17 June 2013, the Anti-drug police raided
al-Karawan café.  They immediately
ordered all persons, including workers and customers, to stand up and raise
their hands to be searched. An eyewitness added that an officer slapped the
café owner on the face as the latter requested a search warrant from the public
prosecution. He highlighted that an elderly person sitting in the café, was
also publicly humiliated for staying in such a place.  

 

In light of the above, PCHR underscores
the following:

1. Even if the police have the right to
search premises by a warrant from the public prosecution, this right should not
be abused in a way that may degrade human dignity or violate civilians’
privacy;

2. Raiding public places, pointing guns and
inhumane treatment against customers constitutes a violation of the right to
safety and tranquility and a form of degrading treatment;

3. Legally, a civilian is innocent
until proven guilty according to legal procedures and a fair trial, and not all
civilians are suspects before law enforcement officers until proven
innocent.  The Anti-drug police’s intervention
and searching of cafés is unacceptable and unjustified;

4. PCHR condemns the attack on a civilian merely
asserting his right to request that officers provide a search warrant from the public
prosecution. It also highlights the right for civilians to see search warrants
issued by the prosecution held by the searching law enforcement officers before
a search takes place; and

5. A search warrant is issued against a
person accused of committing or being involved in a felony or an offence. A
warrant should be reasoned and be issued in accordance with the Code of
Criminal Procedure 3/2001.

 

Therefore, PCHR:

1. Calls upon the government in Gaza to
issue firm decisions to put an end to the illegal and degrading measures that
violate the safety and tranquility of civilians. It also urges the government
to take necessary measures to maintain and respect public freedoms of civilians
that are constitutionally guaranteed and under the relevant international
standards;

2. Calls upon the Attorney General to
investigate the incidents, including the attack on a civilian, and to reveal
the results of investigations;

3. Calls upon the Palestinian security
services to respect international human rights standards, Palestinian Basic Law
and relevant laws; and

4. Emphasizes the victims’ right to resort
to judiciary to claim for compensation for the psychological impact of such
attacks. 

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