On 29 April 2022, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association (Addameer) and the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School (IHRC) submitted a petition to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concerning the Israeli military authorities’ ongoing unlawful administrative detention of Bashir Khairi, a 79-year-old retired Palestinian lawyer and human rights defender. Khairi has been in continued administrative detention by the Israeli military since 7 December 2021, without charges or trial. On 28 April 2022, the Israeli Commander of the West Bank region renewed Khairi’s administrative detention for an additional 6-months, despite Khairi’s old age, the lack of charges, and his continued boycott of the Israeli military court system in protest of his arbitrary detention.
Israeli Occupation Forces first arrested Khairi on 29 October 2021, after 15 soldiers stormed his home in Ramallah at 3:00 am, without presenting a warrant or specifying reasons for his arrest, and transferred him to Ofer Prison for interrogation. Khairi’s detention was repeatedly extended by the Israeli military court until 15 November 2021, when the Israeli military prosecutor submitted a list of charges against Khairi relating to his alleged association with an organization deemed “unlawful” under Israeli military orders. Notwithstanding multiple orders by an Israeli military judge to release Khairi on bail, on 21 November and then on 6 December, Israeli military authorities issued a separate administrative detention order against Khairi, citing that he posed “an imminent threat” to the security of the region, based on “secret evidence” that was never communicated to Khairi or his lawyer.
A confirmation hearing for the administrative order was scheduled for 9 December but was postponed to 14 December. The following day, Khairi wrote a letter announcing his boycott of all military court proceedings in protest of his continued arbitrary detention and the injustice of the military court system. On 26 December, in a confirmation hearing held without the presence of Khairi or his lawyer, a military judge confirmed Khairi’s administrative detention order. On 28 April 2022, the Israeli authorities extended Khairi’s administrative detention for additional six months, again without specifying any charges or basis for his administrative detention. Administrative detention orders by Israeli military authorities are subject to an indefinite number of renewals.
The continued administrative detention of 79-year-old Bashir Khairi highlights Israel’s systematic deployment of unlawful arbitrary detention to target Palestinian human rights defenders and suppress all expressions of dissent against its prolonged illegal military occupation. Targeting Khairi and other individual human rights lawyers, including Salah Hammouri, comes amidst an unprecedented Israeli blanket attack on Palestinian civil society, which culminated on 19 October 2021 with the criminalization of six prominent Palestinian civil society organizations engaged in critical human rights work, a move that was widely rejected and condemned by Palestinian, Israeli, and global human rights organizations and UN experts, repeatedly.
Furthermore, the continued administrative detention of Bashir Khairi without charges or trial is a clear violation of his fundamental rights under international law, including the right to due process and fair trial, including in particular the right to be presented with a warrant and charges at the time of deprivation of liberty; the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty; and the right to challenge his detention before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal.
In the petition, Addameer and IHRC request that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention urge the Israeli authorities to immediately release Bashir Khairi, compensate him for the time he has spent in unlawful detention, and reform its laws and practices with respect to administrative detention to bring them in line with its obligations under international law.