The prisoners’ lives are led far away from the public’s watchful eye and without sufficient external supervision.
It is difficult to garner a favorable public opinion in the struggle for prisoners’ rights, since the public keeps its distance from this group accused of harsh and condemnable acts. This mindset leaves the prisoners and detainees susceptible to human rights abuses. The Palestinian prisoners also suffer from structural discrimination both in the conditions of their incarceration and in exposure to torture and/or violence during their remand and interrogation.
Three authorities hold prisoners: The Israeli Prisoners Service (IPS), the police and the army. Detainees held by the army are subject to the army’s medical system rules and services. The detainees in the police centers are insured by the National Health Insurance, while the prisoners are not entitled under the Health Insurance Law and receive medical care from the IPS itself entitled under the Public Health Ordinance. The medical care in the incarceration facilities is provided by medical staff subordinate to non-medical entities, a situation which enables abuse of the imprisoned persons’ rights.
Supervision over the medical services received by the detainees and prisoners is lacking, since many times such supervision is conducted by entities not medically trained and is usually done within and by the system itself, and tends to be overly lenient towards its own failures. These events become more prevalent on account of the lack of supervision and because of actions carried out by entities which are virtually immune to criticism, such as the General Security Services (GSS) in facilities serviced by the IPS.
The IPS, the main entity responsible for the custody of incarcerated persons, goes to great lengths to prevent outside inspections. The IPS does not allow open tours of its facilities, and only permits pre-coordinated visits with attorneys or doctors with individual prisoners, during which the attorney or doctors may not visit to prisoner’s cell in order to assess the conditions of incarceration.
These structural problems lead inevitably to a restriction in the prisoners’ access to medical care. We witness many cases where incarcerated persons suffer from negligent medical care, overcrowding, neglect, poor sanitation conditions, violence, prolonged periods of solitary confinement, humiliation, and systematic or isolated cases of torture. Such violations are the direct result of the helpless state of each detainee and prisoner.
Prisoners suffering from health problems not requiring hospital admission are not held in regular prisons but rather in the IPS’s Medical Center (IMC) in the Ramleh site. This medical institution also operates with virtually no supervision, medical or otherwise, and is characterized by inadequate medical care, non-medical staff intervening in treatment, problems in transferring patients to outside institutions, neglect in cases of disability and rehabilitation, threats against patients that have filed complaints, and inadequate sanitation and living conditions, among other things.