"If Israel’s military court system and practices of administrative detention had been mentioned as part of the story, listeners would have a much better understanding of why many human rights experts have said that Adnan’s history of imprisonment is unfair, why he decided to embark on repeated hunger strikes in the first place, and why Palestinians have expressed widespread support for his protest. Instead, the use of the term “jail” could imply to listeners that Adnan had been convicted of a crime as part of a fair legal process. The omission of this context is therefore highly misleading."
May 3, 2023
Irris Makler, Journalist, CBC News
Tom Harrington, Host, CBC The World This Hour
Brodie Fenlon, News Editor-in-Chief, CBC News
George Achi, Director of Journalistic Standards and Public Trust, CBC News
Dear Ms. Makler, Mr. Harrington, Mr. Fenlon, and Mr. Achi,
I’m writing to you on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, https://www.cjpme.org) to request a clarification to the CBC’s misleading and inadequate coverage of the killing of Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan, who died yesterday from Israeli medical neglect on day 86 of a hunger strike. A segment about this story by Irris Makler aired on CBC The World This Hour during the afternoon of May 2, 2023. I previously wrote about a segment which aired during the World Report earlier the same day.
There are two issues that I want to address. First, the segment claimed that Adnan was “jailed by Israel,” that he was in an “Israeli jail,” and that he had been “jailed many times before.” This description of Adnan in ‘jail’ is entirely inadequate for understanding this story. Instead, the segment should have noted the fact that Adnan had been repeatedly held in administrative detention, a widespread practice in which Israel holds Palestinian detainees indefinitely without charge or trial. At the time of his death, Khader had not been tried in court. In fact, Israel is holding more than 1,000 prisoners in administrative detention, the highest amount since 2003.[i] Today, UN experts issued a statement claiming that “the death of Khader Adnan is a tragic testament to Israel’s cruel and inhumane detention policy and practices,” and that “the systematic practice of administrative detention, is tantamount to a war crime of wilfully depriving protected persons of the rights of fair and regular trial.”[ii]
If Israel’s military court system and practices of administrative detention had been mentioned as part of the story, listeners would have a much better understanding of why many human rights experts have said that Adnan’s history of imprisonment is unfair, why he decided to embark on repeated hunger strikes in the first place, and why Palestinians have expressed widespread support for his protest. Instead, the use of the term “jail” could imply to listeners that Adnan had been convicted of a crime as part of a fair legal process. The omission of this context is therefore highly misleading.
Second, the segment claimed that Khader Adnan had “refuse[d] medical treatment.” While the World Report segment had attributed this claim to Israeli authorities, the World This Hour repeated this claim as fact and without attribution. With this claim, Israeli authorities are seeking to put the blame on Adnan for his own death. Moreover, neither segment included the critical perspectives of Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups who have directly contradicted Israel’s claim.
Importantly, Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI) claims that Khader Adnan was denied medical care by Israeli authorities, who rejected their warnings about his health condition:
“For weeks, following a severe deterioration in his condition, we tried to convince the Health Ministry, Kaplan Hospital, and the Israel Prison Service (IPS) to keep Adnan hospitalized. The IPS clinic was not equipped to monitor Adnan and could not provide emergency intervention in case of sudden deterioration. After visiting Adnan a few days before his death, PHRI chairperson Dr. Lina Qasem-Hassan published a medical report warning that he faces imminent death and must be urgently transferred to a hospital for observation. Unfortunately, our efforts to raise these concerns judicially and individually fell on deaf ears.”[iii]
As PHRI was quoted by the Associated Press, “We lay the responsibility for [Khader Adnan’s] death at the feet of the Israeli authorities.”[iv]
Similarly, the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC), which includes the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, has accused Israeli authorities of “sustained and purposive practice of medical neglect, including the denial of hospital care to Khader despite a medical emergency,” and holds them “directly responsible for Khader’s death.”[v]
Finally, today’s statement from UN experts also reiterates this position. Although it was issued too late to have been incorporated in the segment in question, it is nonetheless useful to note. The UN experts claim that: “Despite the serious deterioration of his health, Israeli authorities refused to release Adnan or transfer him to hospital, and continued to detain him in a prison hospital facility, reportedly without providing adequate health care.”
I know that it is not possible to include every piece of relevant context in a brief segment. However, this perspective from human rights groups directly contradicts the claims of the Israeli government, which was presented as fact by the World This Hour.
The CBC’s World This Hour should correct the record by:
1) Clarifying that Adnan’s history of imprisonment has mostly been under administrative detention in Israel’s military court system, in which Israel arbitrarily detains large numbers of Palestinians without charge or trial; and
2) Clarifying that human rights groups and UN officials claim that Khader Adnan was denied adequate medical care by Israeli authorities, which is contrary to the claim that Adnan “refuse[d] medical treatment.”
Thank you for fixing this error promptly. Should you wish, you can contact me at 438-380-5410 for more information.
Michael Bueckert, PhD
Vice President, Canadians for Justice an
[i] AP, “Israel holding over 1,000 without charge, most since 2003,” https://apnews.com/article/prison-israel-palestinians-administrative-detention-e4ffd1744a9692c2539a78a8d916176e
[ii] United Nations, “Israel: UN experts demand accountability for death of Khader Adnan and mass arbitrary detention of Palestinians,” https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2023/05/israel-un-experts-demand-accountability-death-khader-adnan-and-mass
[iii] Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI), “Palestinian Hunger Striker Khader Adnan Dies in Israeli Prison,” May 2, 2023, https://www.phr.org.il/en/khader-adnan-dies-in-israeli-prison/
[iv] Prominent Palestinian hunger striker dies in Israeli custody, Associated Press, May 2, 2023, https://toronto.citynews.ca/2023/05/02/palestinian-prisoner-dies-in-israel-after-long-hunger-strike/
[v] Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC), “Prominent Palestinian Activist and Political Prisoner Khader Adnan Passes Away Due To Deliberate Medical Neglect At The Hands Of The Israeli Occupation,” May 2, 2023, https://www.addameer.org/news/5021