Postcards from Abroad: Grout Studies Prisoners' Rights in Ramallah

Posted June 27, 2005 
Ramallah is an active and vibrant city, full of people, culture, and international activity.  It is located in the West Bank/Occupied Palestinian Territories, and getting in and out requires gaining passage through a checkpoint maintained by the Israeli military.

Qalandia checkpoint guard tower at the entrance
to Ramallah. Grout writes that these pictures
"are of things that I see here every day."


In Ramallah I have been working for an organization called the Mandela Institute for Human Rights. The bulk of the Institute’s work involves prison visits, the means by which its lawyers keep track of Palestinian prisoners (who they are, where they are held, whether they are under interrogation, in administrative detention, charged, or sentenced). The visits also allow the lawyers to monitor compliance by the Israeli military and Palestinian Authority with international standards for the treatment of prisoners and the conditions of facilities.


I have been working on a project regarding female Palestinian prisoners. When I finish, I should have compiled information on their numbers, where they are held, their educational and marital status, age (some are juveniles), health status, and whether or not they have children (some have given birth in prison). Also included will be information on the legal status of each prisoner—that is, whether she has been charged and sentenced, or is instead under administrative detention. I will be researching sources of international law, such as the Geneva Conventions and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in order to understand the different or additional legal protections that exist for women and juvenile female prisoners.

Roma settlement

Qalandia refugee camp on the outer edge of Ramallah

For a somewhat separate project I will focus on the legal implications of administrative detention. Those in administrative detention are situated differently from prisoners who have been charged, tried, and sentenced. Under administrative detention, a prisoner has not been charged or tried, but can nonetheless be detained indefinitely by Israel via six-month renewable sentences. As of one year ago there were more than 700 Palestinians in administrative detention.

This wall divides Palestinian territory in order to protect 
Israeli settlements within the Palestinian area.

Melany Grout

Postcards from Abroad

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