UN rights concerned by location of Palestinian release

18th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

The UN human rights office raised concerns Tuesday 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 on Tuesday 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.

© 2011 AFP

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