UN rights concerned by location of Palestinian release

Israel began releasing 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in two stages in exchange for the handover of soldier Gilad Shalit.

Updated: Oct 19, 2011, 08:56 AM IST

Geneva: The UN human rights office raised
concerns on Wednesday that hundreds of West Bank Palestinian
prisoners released by Israel may have been unable to choose
the location of their release.

"We ... have concerns regarding reports that hundreds of
Palestinian prisoners from the West Bank may be released to
the Gaza Strip or abroad," said Rupert Colville, spokesman for
the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"We are not sure to what extent they consented to this.
"If in some cases this has been without the free and
informed consent of the concerned individuals, it may
constitute forced transfer or deportation under international
law," he warned.

The UN rights office also raised concerns that thousands
of Palestinians remained detained by Israel, and called on the
country to comply with international law regarding the
treatment of these detainees.

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross
said it had carried out interviews with each of the
Palestinian prisoners in the capacity of an "impartial and
neutral intermediary."

An ICRC spokesman would however not say if the detainees
were given a choice on the location of their release.

Israel today began releasing 1,027 Palestinian prisoners
in two stages in exchange for the handover of soldier Gilad
Shalit, who was snatched by Gaza militants in June 2006.

PTI