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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 December, 2003, 10:08 GMT
Israel court lifts prison secrecy
Israeli soldiers escort a Palestinian prisoner (generic)
Israel says prisoners can meet lawyers off-site
Israel's supreme court has ordered the government to release information about a secret jail for "high-risk" inmates.

The government only recently admitted the existence of Facility 1391, an army detention centre dubbed "Israel's Guantanamo Bay" by the Israeli press.

Palestinian prisoners have reportedly been held in disorienting conditions and barred from outside contact.

Government lawyers said the location was an army secret, but inmates had the right to meet their lawyers elsewhere.

Shai Nitzan, representing the government, said prisoners' rights are safeguarded at the facility.

He said that the Red Cross can interview detainees off-site. They are not allowed to visit the prison itself.

'Not in use'

The government says there are currently no prisoners being held at the centre.

The detention conditions... are not proper for holding a human being
Hamoked,
Israeli human rights group
Mr Nitzan said it was used by the Shin Bet internal security service primarily between April 2002 and March 2003 in order to relieve overcrowding at other jails.

The Israeli human rights group Hamoked, which brought the suit on behalf of Palestinian former detainees, says inmates are kept in unacceptable conditions.

"The detention conditions... are not proper for holding a human being, and are liable to cause physical and psychological injury, which may even be irreversible," the organisation said in its court submission.

It also argued that keeping Facility 1391's location secret was illegal.

The court condemned the prison for reportedly keeping inmates in sub-standard conditions, but said prison conditions were not part of its ruling.

The court gave the government 45 days to release information about the facility.


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