Monday, August 10, 2015

  • Monday, August 10, 2015
  • Elder of Ziyon
From the PA news agency Wafa:
Palestinian Health Minister Jawad ‘Awad slammed Israel’s announcement that would begin the force-feeding of hunger-striking Palestinian detainee, Mohammad Allan, as an ‘execution’.

In a Friday press conference, ‘Awad said that force-feeding Mohammad ‘Allan, currently hospitalized in Israeli hospital of Soroka, by Israeli occupation authorities under the force-feeding bill passed by the Knesset at the end of July is tantamount to execution.

‘Allan, has been on a hunger strike for 54 consecutive days in protest against his administrative detention without trial or charge. Reportedly, he has recently been suffering from a critical health condition, complaining of poor vision and throwing up of blood.
Force-feeding is certainly controversial but it is not by any definition "execution" - it is the opposite. As I understand Israel's law, it only goes into effect is the hunger striker is in immediate danger of death. 

And this seems to be consistent with international law. In Nevmerzhitsky v. Ukraine, the European Court of Human Rights ruled:

93....The Court notes that in previous case-law the Commission held that the “forced-feeding of a person does involve degrading elements which in certain circumstances may be regarded as prohibited by Article 3 of the Convention”. When, however, as in the present case, a detained person maintains a hunger strike this may inevitably lead to a conflict between an individual's right to physical integrity and the High Contracting Party's positive obligation under Article 2 of the Convention – a conflict which is not solved by the Convention itself” (see X v. Germany (1984) 7 EHRR 152). The Commission reiterated that “under German law this conflict ha[d] been solved in that it [was] possible to force-feed a detained person if this person, due to a hunger strike, would be subject to injuries of a permanent character, and the forced-feeding [was] even obligatory if an obvious danger for the individual's life exist[ed]. The assessment of the above-mentioned conditions [was] left for the doctor in charge but an eventual decision to force-feed [could] only be carried out after judicial permission ha[d] been obtained” (ibid.)....
94. The Court reiterates that a measure which is of therapeutic necessity from the point of view of established principles of medicine cannot in principle be regarded as inhuman and degrading. The same can be said about force-feeding that is aimed at saving the life of a particular detainee who consciously refuses to take food. The Convention organs must nevertheless satisfy themselves that the medical necessity has been convincingly shown to exist (see Herczegfalvy v. Austria, judgment of 24 September 1992, Series A no. 244, p. 26, § 83). Furthermore, the Court must ascertain that the procedural guarantees for the decision to force-feed are complied with. Moreover, the manner in which the applicant is subjected to force-feeding during the hunger strike shall not trespass the threshold of a minimum level of severity envisaged by the Court's case law under Article 3 of the Convention.
As long as the force-feeding is done to save a life, and it is not done in a degrading way if it can be avoided, then case law seems to say that it is not only allowed but obligatory under legal obligations to take care of prisoners.

A special rapporteur ruled that US force-feeding in Guantanamo was torture, but as far as I can tell, that analysis does not have the same weight as the European Court of Human Rights. Even according to the rapporteur, however, if a prisoner becomes unconscious he can no longer object to being fed (perhaps intravenously) to save his life.

Either way, to call it "execution" is just another inversion of the truth that we are so used to seeing from the Palestinian Arab leadership.

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