International law and UK complicity

Israel’s policies of arrest and detention systematically violates numerous elements of international law, including but not limited to:

  • Prohibition on transferring prisoners from occupied territory into the territory of the occupier (Fourth Geneva Convention)
  • Prohibition on using administrative detention as a punitive measure
  • Non-derogable prohibition of torture
  • Rights of children according to the International Convention on the Rights of a Child, including detention as a last resort and freedom from torture.
  • Right to liberty and the right not to be subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Articles 3 & 9). In this case, this violation may also be considered a ‘Crime of Apartheid’ according to the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid

Several of these violations constitute war crimes.

International corporations are complicit in these violations when they support and supply the Israeli prison system. British private security company G4S provided equipment and services to Israeli prisons and detention centres until it was pressured to drop its Israeli subsidiary by BDS campaigns. Tech giant HP still does equip Israeli prisons, and the BDS campaign against it is starting to heat up.

The UK government continues to trade weapons with and provide other diplomatic support for Israel, despite clear knowledge of these violations. The UK government has obligations under international law to ensure that the Fourth Geneva Convention is respected by other signatories, including Israel. The UK also has ‘third state responsibility’ to take action when a state breaches the universally binding principles of international law, such as the prohibition of torture. This means that the UK government must act to hold Israel to account for its policies towards Palestinian political prisoners.

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