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Prisoner's family 'to file suit' against Israel over isolation

Oct. 28, 2011 7:29 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 30, 2011 6:22 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The family of a released Palestinian prisoner is seeking to file a lawsuit against the Israeli prison administration after he became mentally unstable after 12 years of isolation in jail.

Oweida Kallab, 48, was released after 24 years but he spent half that time in isolation, the family says. The experience has left him with severe psychological issues and unable to adapt to life outside.

His brother Awad told UFree, a European prisoners' rights network: "My brother has a problem sitting on a chair – he adjusts his body as though he is squatting – after more than a decade in isolation in a tiny space."

Oweida has undergone medical tests which revealed he has a stomach ulcer, a hernia and kidney stones, UFree reported.

The UN special rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez recently called for a world-wide ban on solitary confinement except in extreme circumstances.

He also said indefinite and prolonged solitary confinement in excess of 15 days should be ended, citing studies that have established that after 15 days some of the harmful psychological effects of isolation can become irreversible.

"Indeed, even a few days of solitary confinement will shift an individual’s brain activity towards an abnormal pattern characteristic of

stupor and delirium," the UN envoy's report to the General Assembly said.

Negative health effects can occur after only a few days in solitary confinement, and the health risks rise with each additional day spent in such conditions, according to the UN report.

In Israel, solitary confinement cells are often lit with fluorescent bulbs as their only source of light, and they have no source of fresh air, the report adds.

Prisoners across Israeli jails recently held a 3-week mass hunger strike demanding Israel stopped holding detainees in solitary confinement.

The strike was called off after Israel agreed to end the practice and release detainees from isolation.

But Palestinian Authority Minister of Detainee Affairs Issa Qaraqe told Ma'an on Wednesday that around 20 Palestinians remained in solitary confinement despite Israel's pledge to release them on Oct. 18.

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