Administrative Detention of Shaher Al-Rai Renewed on Day of Scheduled Release

Israeli forces have renewed the administrative detention of Shaher Al-Rai – imprisoned without charge or trial - on the day of his scheduled release (25 October 2016), after Mr. Al Rai had already packed his personal items, said goodbye to his fellow prisoners and detainees and even reached the prison’s exit. Mr. Al-Rai, 46-year-old, from Qalqilya, was arrested on 3 June 2015 during a late-night raid on his home. Al-Rai was ordered to six months in administrative detention, the order was renewed in December 2015, renewed again in May 2016 and was further renewed yesterday, 25 October 2016.

Al-Rai had been arrested seven times including three periods in administrative detention; his wife Manal told Addameer that though they have been married for 25 years, they have lived together for a total of only five years. Manal also told us that they were shocked when they heard the news about the administrative detention renewal. She said, they were on their way to pick Mr. Al-Rai up, but were informed that he will not be released. “It a shock for all of us, especially his youngest son Kanaan (5-year-old), who started heavily crying in distress” – Manal told Addameer. Manal and Shaher have three children: Jarrah, 24, a physiotherapist; Wajla, 20, a law student in Algeria; and Kanaan, 5.

The case of Al-Rai shows how administrative detention may amount to psychological torture as the detainee is subjected to detention without fair trial guarantees, as well as the indefinite nature of the detention, where orders can be renewed every six months, indefinitely – based on secret information. This results in developing feelings of helplessness and lack of control associated with this experience, which causes psychological and mental torture of the detainee and his or her family. Extension of the administrative detention period severely increases the psychological suffering of the detainee. Once the detainee and his or her family members are expecting release, the Israeli authorities often renew the detention order  for up to six additional months, still without putting forth any charges.

Al- Rai’s case exemplify many of the legal cases pursued by Addameer, where individuals spend years in prison after being sentenced for committing violations, in accordance with Israeli military orders. When the period ends, however, rather than being released, many are immediately placed under administrative detention under the pretext that they still pose a threat to security. Palestinian detainees have spent up to a decade cumulatively in administrative detention without charge or trial. This experience of administrative detention is undoubtedly severely devastating, and impacts the overall psychological health of administrative detainees and their families. 

Addameer affirms the concluding observations of the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT), 13 May 2016, which called on the Israeli government to “[t]ake the measures necessary to end the practice of administrative detention and ensure that all persons who are currently held in administrative detention are afforded all basic legal safeguards.” Thus, Addameer calls upon the international community to push the Israeli government to end the use of administrative detention. Addameer further calls for administrative detention to be recognized as a form of psychological torture that should be prohibited in line with the Convention Against Torture’s non-derogable prohibition.