Call for Urgent Action: Save Palestinian Hunger Striker Mohammad Allan from Force-Feeding and Torture
Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-IL) call for urgent action to save the life of Palestinian detainee Mohammad Allan, a Palestinian attorney who has been on hunger strike for 54 days in protest of his administrative detention without charge or trial since November 2014. Mohammad Allan is being held by the Israeli Prison Services (IPS). Early this morning he was transferred from the intensive care unit in Soroka Hospital, Beer Al-Sabe to Barzilai hospital, Askalan. Allan is in a critical condition, not taking any minerals, vitamins or supplements and has refused medical examinations.
Mohammad Allan was arrested by the Israeli occupation army on 6 November 2014 and has been under administrative detention since then. A six-month administrative detention order was issued and it was renewed for a further six months in May 2015. After extending his administrative detention, Mohammad embarked on an open-ended hunger strike on the 16th of June 2015 in protest of his continued detention without trial.
On Friday 7 August 2015, the Israeli Prison Service told Allan's lawyer that it was planning to submit a request to the Israeli District Court to authorize force-feeding him as provided for under the notorious and recently legislated force-feeding law. A day later, Gilad Erdan, the minister of public security affairs, declared that the force-feeding law would not be implemented yet, and that Allan would be treated according to the Israeli Patient's Rights Act. PHR-IL has confirmed that the ethical committee of the Soroka hospital has authorized forced examinations on Allan, yet the medical staff of Soroka hospital have stood firm and refused any act of coercion on their patient.
In response, hoping that other doctors might agree to force-feed him, the IPS transferred Allan to Barzilai hospital this morning. The director of Barzilai has told the press that the hospital would follow the Patient’s Rights Act and that he hoped Allan would be willing to accept medical treatment. It seems that the hospital is being put under pressure by the Israeli authorities who are attempting to influence the decisions of the hospitals' ethics committees.
The Israeli patients' rights act does not allow force-feeding. It anchors the duty to provide medical care conditioned with informed consent to receive medical treatment, even in cases of medical emergency:
Section 13(a) states:
No medical treatment will be given to a patient unless the patient has given his informed consent to the treatment. In addition, the Act anchors the provisions with regard to medical treatment without consent under very strict conditions which are intended to undergo examination by the ethics committee of the medical institution.
Section 15 states:
(1) A clinician may give medical treatment that is not one of the treatments enumerated in the Supplement to this Act without the informed consent of the patient, if all the following conditions are met:
(a) The patient’s physical or mental state does not permit obtaining his informed consent;
(b) The clinician is not aware that the patient or his legal guardian objects to the receipt of medical treatment;
(c) It is impossible to obtain the consent of the patient’s authorized representative, should such a representative have been appointed under Clause 16 of this Act, or it is impossible to obtain the consent of the patient’s legal guardian, if the patient is a minor or a legally incapacitated person.
(2) Should the patient be deemed to be in grave danger but reject medical treatment, which under the circumstances must be given soon, the clinician may perform the treatment even against the patient’s wish, if an Ethics Committee, after having heard the patient, has approved administering the treat¬ment, and has been persuaded that (c) there are reasonable grounds to suppose that, after receiving treatment, the patient will give his retroactive consent.
It is evident that in the case of Mohammad Allan, there is no justification for any forced treatment or force-feeding, since he is still mentally competent, understands his condition and the implications of his situation; he is able to engage in discussion and has expressed his will not to be examined or treated.
Any medical coercion on Allan despite his refusal may cause the opposite effect and result in severe health problems and even potentially jeopardize Allan’s life, as evident in Israel’s previous attempts to force-feed Palestinian hunger strikers during the 1980s, which resulted in several deaths.
Addameer and PHR-Israel warn against the forced treatment or feeding of hunger striker Mohammad Allan and stress that any such act of forced treatment and coercion on Allan while he is conscious, mentally competent and despite his refusal to get examined, treated, or be fed constitute violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.
Force-feeding violates medical ethics as it administers forceful treatment to a patient against his will, and is considered a form of torture. The World Medical Association addressed the Prime Minister of Israel, stating the following: "Force-feeding is violent, very painful and absolutely in opposition to the principle of individual autonomy. It is a degrading, inhumane treatment, amounting to torture. But worse, it can be dangerous and is the most unsuitable approach to save lives." Article 7 of the 1975 World Medical Association Declaration of Tokyo explicitly states that doctors are not allowed to force-feed hunger strikers.
Addameer and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel also underline the World Medical Assembly’s guidelines in the Declaration of Tokyo (Guidelines for Physicians Concerning Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in Relation to Detention and Imprisonment) adopted in October 1975 which states that: “Where a prisoner refuses nourishment and is considered by the physician as capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgment concerning the consequences of such a voluntary refusal of nourishment, he or she shall not be fed artificially.”
We urge you to take all action possible including writing to relevant authorities and decision-makers, asking them to put pressure on the Israeli authorities to dismiss their plans to force-feed Mohammad Allan and to put an end to his arbitrary detention without trial, which is a flagrant violation of international law and human rights guarantees and standards on fair trial. Addameer and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel are ready to help in providing material and support for any correspondence or action you intend to take.
For further information contact:
Rafat Sub Laban
Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
+972 (0) 2 297 0136/+972(0) 457 936418
International Advocacy Coordinator
Physicians for Human Rights – Israel
+972 (0)527 424514