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2/19/2013
Ban urges speedy resolution of hunger strikes by Palestinian prisoners
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, voicing deep concern over what he called the “rapidly deteriorating condition” of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody who are on hunger strike, urged a solution to the matter be reached without delay.

“International human rights obligations towards all Palestinian detainees and prisoners under Israeli custody must be fully respected,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement that also underlined the importance of full adherence by all sides to previous agreement on the issue, including the implementation of prisoners’ family visitation rights.

Of particular concern are the detainees held in administrative detention without charges, the spokesman said. “Those detained should be charged and face trial with judicial guarantees in accordance with international standards, or be promptly released,” he said.

The spokesperson underlined the critical health condition of one Palestinian detainee, Samer Issawi. Mr. Issawi has been on partial hunger strike for over 200 days, according to a news release issued last week by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“The Secretary-General urges for a solution to be reached without delay in order to resolve the prisoners' plight and preserve calm,” the spokesperson said.

The United Nations, he added, would continue to closely following the situation on the ground. Last week, Deputy Special Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator James W. Rawley met with the Palestinian Minister of Prisoner and Detainee Affairs. Today he met with representatives of the families of detainees.

“The United Nations will remain engaged with relevant authorities on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides and hopes for an early resolution of this important issue,” he said.

He noted that the Secretary-General had received a letter from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as well as from the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States on the subject.

He has also expressed his concerns to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in their recent telephone conversation, the spokesman said.

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