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State Security Court extends detention of Mohammed Dahman, Director of Addameer

 

URGENT COMMUNIQUE

State Security Court extends detention of Mohammed Dahman,

Director of Addameer

Published @ 18.00 GMT on 18 August 1996

On Thursday, 15 August, Mohammed Dahman, director of Addameer Prisoner Support Association, was brought before the State Security Court, where his detention was extended for a period of 15 days.

Dahman’s attorneys, Raji Sourani and Iyad al-Alami of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, were able to secure attendance at the Court session where they sought Dahman’s release. This is the first instance in which an individual brought before the State Security Court has been accompanied by legal counsel of his choosing. Prosecutors had sought and obtained an extension of his detention for a period of 15 days on the basis that the investigation was continuing.

Dahman’s appearance at the State Security Court followed his arrest by Palestinian police from his home in Gaza City around midnight on the evening of Monday, August 12, 1996, after Addameer issued a press release asking the Palestinian National Authority to investigate the case of Nahid Dahalan, a 24-year-old Palestinian who died in suspicious circumstances Wednesday, August 7. In an interview published in Al-Nahar newspaper Wednesday, August 14, PA Attorney General Khalid Al-Qidra stated that Dahman “was arrested by the Attorney General on charges of publishing false information and issuing it in a press release.”

The press release issued by Addameer contained information the organisation believed to be true. Until the ongoing official investigation is concluded, it cannot be determined whether Addameer published false information concerning Dahalan’s case, and there appears to be no basis for Dahman’s arrest.

Dahman was imprisoned for 19 years during the Israeli occupation and is a prominent public figure in the Gaza Strip due, in particular, to his legal efforts on behalf of Palestinians imprisoned by the Israeli authorities.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights appeals for the immediate release of Mohammed Dahman.

 

Background Information

The State Security Court

The State Security Court was established by the Palestinian Authority in February 1995 to deal with cases concerning national security. The court’s procedures, which include trials without notice or the right to counsel, often at night and in undisclosed locations, fall far short of international standards. The procedures of the State Security Court infringe upon the right to liberty and security of person, the right to be free of arbitrary arrest and detention, and the right to a fair trial. The ambiguous procedures and jurisdiction of this court weaken standards of policing, prosecution, and judicial review.

In previous State Security Court hearings, individuals brought before the Court have been denied access to their own legal counsel and lawyers have not been informed about trials in which their defendants will appear. The presence of Dahman’s attorneys Raji Sourani and Iyad al-Alami at the hearing of the State Security Court is the first time an individual brought before the court has been accompanied by his own legal counsel.

The Relationship Between the PA and NGOs

Addameer Prisoner Support Association researches and provides information on Palestinian prisoners and develops programs for prisoners’ reintegration into society. As with other non-governmental organisations in the Occupied Territories, it may at times be critical of the activities of the Palestinian Authority. These criticisms are an important aspect of the process of developing a democratic civil society in the autonomous areas.

The importance of the NGO community must be recognised and their role supported; these groups should not be viewed as an opposition to the Palestinian Authority. Instead, it must be realised that this community plays a role complementary to that of the Palestinian Authority in the search for the rule of law and the support of Palestinian democracy.

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