Birzeit--Birzeit University and its Human Rights Action Project would like to urge the Palestinian National Authority to clarify its legal procedures with respect to the arrest and detention of 15 students and 1 staff member, and particularly concerning the ban on visits to the detainees by their lawyer. The university raises particular concern about three detainees believed to be held in Jericho who have not been seen by the lawyer, university officials, or family members since their detentions on 8 March.

The university community, like Palestinian society as a whole, has welcomed a new era when our Palestinian people have the opportunity to build our society on the basis of law and human rights. We have welcomed the affirmation of these principles by Palestinian leaders and the Palestinian National Authority. We appreciate that the establishment of the rule of law requires sustained and cooperative efforts. In this spirit, the university calls on the competent authorities to act without delay to secure each detainee's due process rights to access to an attorney and to know the legal basis of his detention.

Since 3 March, 15 students and 1 staff member have been placed under detention by the Palestinian National Authority. Most of the detainees are being held at the Ramallah District Headquarters of the Palestinian National Authority. While not provided with access to a lawyer or with information about the grounds for their detention, student and staff detainees in Ramallah have received visits from family members and university officials and appear to be held in reasonable facilities. The students in Jericho, however, are being held incommunicado, causing an increased level of concern about their health and welfare. It is an urgent priority that the lawyer or at the very least a university official be permitted immediate access.

University officials have met on numerous occasions with Palestinian governmental representatives in order to raise these urgent matters. The university appreciates the willingness of these officia ls to discuss fully and frankly matters of mutual concern. At this time, it is hoped that the authority will respond with clear legal guidelines that respect the right of detainees to due process and legal counsel.