Summary: New report reveals significant increase in solitary confinement in Israeli prisons

Israel, March 2016: SRT grantee Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHRI) has released a new report, ‘Politics of Punishment’, which analyses the use of solitary confinement in Israeli prisons. The report shows a significant increase in the numbers held in solitary confinement, which almost double from 390 to 755 between 2012 and 2014. International human rights law views solitary confinement as a form of torture and calls for significantly reducing and ending its use. These figures reinforce concerns that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) is using solitary confinement on a regular basis, rather than as a measure of last resort.

The IPS employs three forms of solitary confinement; however it only keeps data pertaining to one form, which revealed the scope of its use and the way it is used. In July 2015, the data revealed that 117 prisoners were subjected to solitary confinement, including two minors, with seven held in solitary confinement for more than five years and 63 for more than six months. Some were kept there for nothing more than an administrative IPS decision. This contradicts the affirmation by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture in 2011 that solitary confinement exceeding 15 days constitutes torture or cruel degrading treatment or punishment, and the adoption of the amended version of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners prohibiting prolonged or indefinite solitary confinement.

Adv. Ola Shtiwi, Coordinator of Policy Change at PHRI’s Prisoners and Detainees Department and author of the report, said, “There is no disputing the obligation of the state and all of its institutions to protect prisoners and care for their health. Many have already come to the realisation that solitary confinement only causes prisoners harm and that it is their duty to ban its use. The decision to go on using solitary confinement despite its extensive ill effects suggests that it is not used as a means of ensuring protection and security for prisoners, as claimed, but as a means of oppression”.

See the full report here:

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