United States should sanction Israeli officials responsible for Niser's imprisonment, deter repeat persecutions.
(Washington, D.C., April 20, 2023) – Israel has released Jamal Niser, the 76-year old Palestinian-American, from administrative detention today, following Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN)'s documentation of his wrongful, arbitrary, and political detention and call for sanctions, including a visa ban, against Israeli military judge Maj. (Res) Maor Even-Khen, one of the military officers who authorized Niser's imprisonment.
DAWN demanded Israeli authorities to allow Niser to leave the West Bank without conditions and travel safely back to the United States, which they have previously prevented him from doing, and to compensate him for his unjust imprisonment.
"Today is a day of relief for the Niser family, but the American people should take no satisfaction in a close partner of the U.S. imprisoning a 76-year old American citizen for eight months without charge or trial," said Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man, Director of Research, Israel-Palestine at DAWN. "If there is no accountability in Niser's case – as in actual punishment for the Israeli officials responsible for so grievously abusing Niser – Israeli judges will continue arbitrarily imprisoning Palestinians—including U.S. citizens—with impunity."
As documented in DAWN's detailed investigation, the Israeli military had held Niser detained without charge or trial based on alleged secret evidence for the past eight months, following a previous four-month stint in administrative detention in 2021, which the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention determined to be arbitrary and unjust. Niser needs urgent medical care in the United States. The Biden Administration should ensure that the Israeli military allows Niser, whose family lives in the United States, to leave the occupied West Bank and return home, unimpeded without additional harassment.
The Israeli military detained Niser during a pre-dawn raid of his home near Ramallah on August 24, 2022. Israeli authorities have never charged him with a crime, denying him the most basic right of due process and a fair trial. Israeli military officers renewed his detention, again without charge or trial, in December 2022, which was set to expire on April 22, 2023. Prison authorities do not release detainees over the weekend, so they released him today, April 20, 2023.
"We are satisfied that the Israeli government has released Niser following DAWN's extensive advocacy on his case, but maintain our demand that the US government should sanction the Israeli officials responsible for his abuse," said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of DAWN. "The Israeli government is obligated to pay Niser compensation for his unjust imprisonment and all the abuse they've heaped on him, for absolutely no reason at all other than to punish him for his political participation."
Human rights treaties (including Article 14(6) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; Article 3 of the Protocol No. 7 to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms; and Article 10 of the American Convention on Human Rights explicitly protect the right to compensation for wrongful conviction or miscarriage of justice.
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