Immediate Action required for Palestinian and Kashmiri prisoners amid Covid-19 crisis

Take 1-3 minutes to send a letter to remind the Canadian government of its responsibility under international and domestic law with regards to the Palestinian and Kashmiri prisoners held by their respective Israeli and Indian occupiers.  

Request the Canadian government to call on the occupying powers, to release all Palestinian and Kashmiri prisoners from Israeli and Indian prisons to ensure their safety from an uncontrolled COVID-19 spread.  This is particularly URGENT for those who are more vulnerable and more susceptible to the disease, including children, women, older persons, prisoners with underlying health  conditions, and injured prisoners.

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It is also suggested you send separately to your own Member of Parliament

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Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails face the ongoing threat of settler colonialism, apartheid and occupation. This year as we approach Palestinian Prisoner Day on April 17, 2020, we also remember that Kashmiri prisoners inside Indian jail face that same threat of settler colonialism, apartheid and occupation.  

Currently, the situation is made even more URGENT for Palestinians and Kashmiri prisoners being held by their occupiers -- the threat to their health and lives posed by the global pandemic of coronavirus (COVID-19) is accentuated by institutionalized colonial medical negligence.

Under the Fourth Geneva Convention:

-Prisoners are afforded protection as protected persons. Article 76 indicates prisoners are not to be taken by the occupier from the occupied area, albeit, both Israel and India violate this taking Palestinian and Kashmiri prisoner respectively to the prisoners in Israel and India.

-Prisoners as per Article 5 and 71 are guaranteed proper trial and defense, but in the case of Palestinian and Kashmiri prisoners they are systemically denied this right, and in addition are routinely held in administrative detention without charge.  

-As protected persons, prisoners are entitled to rights and humanitarian care, including under Article 76, medical attention by the occupying (protecting) power.  

The Canadian government is accountable under both:

Domestic Law: Canadian sanction laws implement United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions regimes under the United Nations Act, as well as Canadian autonomous sanctions regimes under the Special Economic Measures Act. Under the Special Economic Measures Act, sanctions are required when gross and systematic human rights violations have been committed in a foreign state. In the case of systemic violations of human rights including the detention of minors and flagrant disregard for the Fourth Geneva Convention regarding prisoners, Canada has the responsibility to take action to address this according to the Special Economic Measures Act.

International Law: Under Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, all high signatories including Canada, are required to take actions to ensure that violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention do not occur under any circumstance.

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Palestine: On April 1, 2020, an urgent appeal to the United Nations (UN) Special Procedures regarding the rapidly deteriorating condition of Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons in light of the continued spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Palestine and around the world. Addressed to five Special Procedures mandates, including the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, the human rights organizations, Al-Haq and Addameer urgently requested intervention to uphold the right to health, safety, and well-being of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention, particularly as many are minors, chronically ill, vulnerable groups, or held under administrative detention in contravention of international law. In light of Covid-19, in late March, Israel began to release Israeli prisoners but not Palestinian prisoners.

Kashmir: On April 5, 2020, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Monday called for a "very close look" at the continued incarceration of Kashmiris prisoners in Indian occupied Kashmir amid the growing cases of the deadly coronavirus, as six leading international human rights organizations jointly demanded their immediate release. Read the open letter to UNHCHR regarding administrative detentions in Indian occupied Kashmir. Read the Middle Eastern Eye April 11, 2020 article. In late March, India’s Supreme Court recommended that the government begin granting parole to Indian prisoners in a bid to stop the exponential spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the country’s overpopulated prisons, however this did not include Kashmiri prisoners.

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