On the International Day against Torture, Al Mezan Calls the International Community to Intervene to Stop the Crime of Torture in the OPT

News and Press Release
Originally published
The 26 June 2010 marks the International Day against Torture. It's an occasion to promote all efforts to implement the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which entered into force on 26 June 1987.

This year, the International Day against Torture comes amid the escalation in Israeli violations against Palestinians detainees held in Israeli prisons. They suffer inhuman treatment that violates their human rights and violates international humanitarian law. It also comes amid the increase in acts that constitute torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment against the Gazan patients who try to gain access to hospitals in the West Bank and Israel. Students are arbitrarily deprived of access to their universities and to visit their families. Palestinian farmers and fishermen in the Gaza Strip are also subject to the Israeli policies and practices along the borders and in the sea, such as the shooting at fishermen while they are fishing.

Since 1967, the Israeli authorities have arbitrarily and deliberately arrested Palestinians civilians in attempts to subjugate civilians. Israel has practiced systematic torture against Palestinians with the approval of the Israeli High Court. The Israeli High Court has allowed the internal Israeli intelligence agency "Shabak" (otherwise referred to as Shin Bet) to practice a "reasonable amount of" psychological and physical torture on Palestinian detainees. The Israeli law grants immunity to the Israeli interrogators who practice torture against Palestinian detainees held for "security" reasons. The UN committee against torture strongly condemned this act.

In an interview on 22 June 2010, the deputy head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories said to Haaretz that there are 8967 Palestinian detainees, 213 of whom are administrative detainees. 806 detainees are from Gaza. According to the estimations of Abdel Nasir Firwana, an ex-detainee and a researcher of detainees' issues, there are at least 300 Palestinian children and 37 women detained in the Israeli prisons and detention centers.

According to Al Mezan's Legal Assistance Unit, the common techniques and methods used by the Israeli intelligence during interrogation violate the detainee's dignity and cause physical pain and suffering. These practices start from the detention phase and continue during interrogation. The Israeli prison administration uses different techniques used against Palestinian detainees. Palestinian detainees are subject to severe beatings and of being held in the Shabah position (the painful binding of the detainee's hands and feet to a chair) for long periods of time. Palestinian detainees are also subject to long periods of interrogation, verbal abuse, spitting on the face, beating, violent shaking, the painful cuffing of the hands and legs, cold air, threats, sleep deprivation and other inhuman and degrading treatment. Palestinian patient detainees are deprived of adequate or appropriate medication.

Al Mezan points out that torture is also practiced in the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT). Arbitrary detentions, inhuman treatment and torture have prevailed in Palestinian detention centers and prisons in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Several Palestinians were killed in Palestinian prisons during the last few years.

Al Mezan reiterates that practicing torture and inhuman treatment constitute a crime under Palestinian law and international law. Torture and inhuman treatment are neither morally nor legally justified. They are banned even in times of war and emergency. Victims of torture have the right to legal remedies and reparation and their rights can be retroactively applied.

Al Mezan expresses its strongest condemnation of the ongoing and increasing Israeli torture against Palestinian detainees held in the Israeli prisons and detention centers. It condemns the inhuman and cruel treatment against Gazan patients, who attempt to reach hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as other persons who suffer the impact of the collective punishment and the siege policies practiced by Israel against the Gaza Strip.

Therefore, Al Mezan calls on the international community to exert pressure on Israel to respect its obligations under the international law and to prohibit torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Al Mezan also calls on the Gaza and the West Bank Governments to announce the prohibition of torture, to establish mechanisms to ensure that torture is not practiced, to bring to justice any Palestinian involved in practicing torture, and to allow for transparent observation of the detention centers to monitor that the security forces do not practice torture and inhuman treatment.