Three terrorists who are serving time in Israeli prisons have asked the High Court to hold another discussion over its ruling that security prisoners are not eligible for free university education in Israeli schools.
The ruling several weeks ago came in response to a lawsuit by the three, who claimed they were being discriminated against because prison authorities refused to enroll them in an Open University program and pay their tuition. The Open University offers extensive distance-learning programs, enabling students to do coursework via the Internet, with scheduled meetings with mentors.
The Court said that discrimination was not an issue in the case. “The Court has ruled in the past and continues to rule that the differences in treatment of criminal and terrorist prisoners is not due to discrimination. We believe the same applies to education,” said the three judges who heard the case.
With that, the court said that the prison system should be “considerate” in deciding what to do with terrorists who are already in the midst of academic programs.
In their request for an additional discussion on the issue, the terrorists asked the Court to discuss it again because, as they claimed, the previous ruling sharply contradicts the long-standing law which prohibits arbitrary distinction between security and criminal prisoners. They further claimed that the new ruling states that the conditions of a prisoner can be worsened simply because of he is classified as a security prisoner.
"Leaving the ruling intact could significantly erode the basic principle of the laws relating to the issue of prisoners, which states that human rights do not end at the gates of the prison," the terrorists' lawyers wrote in the appeal. "Previous decisions of the High Court determined that the violation of the rights of a prisoner is permissible only if it is necessary for maintaining public order and security in prison."
In 2010, the number of inmates enrolled in the Open University stood at 270, of which 60 were classified as criminal prisoners and the rest were security prisoners.
In the past, Israeli prisons provided terrorists with free college education, but the practice was halted recently.