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Palestine - Israel

Report highlights widespread torture of Palestinian prisoners

Wednesday 30 May 2007

In a report released on Wednesday, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel accuses the Israeli intelligence services of the widespread torture of Palestinian detainees.

The accusations contained within the report are backed up by the testimonies of 9 former Palestinian prisoners. These testimonies contain allegations of a wide variety of practices formally recognized as torture and in one case, allegations of sexual abuse.

Forensic examination of the prisoners in question revealed signs of sexual and physical abuse on their body, with one prisoner in particular left paralyzed as a direct result of damage incurred to his spine during interrogation.

For its part, the committee slammed such practices, arguing that the High Court’s decision to permit controversial interrogation techniques has led to the widespread abuse of Palestinian prisoners.

“Today in Israel, there is no effective barrier – not legal and certainly not ethical – that stands in the way of using torture. A secret service organization such as the Shin Bet decides independently to use torture and, afterwards, investigates itself as to whether the use of interrogation was justified,” the report states.

In closing, PCATI director Hannah Friedman states, “Torture victims, in their painful testimonies, serve to warn us that this ethical boundary is blurred in our society. A state that views itself as a democracy committed to the protection of human rights cannot allow torture that is derived from the darkness of the Middle Ages,”

The Shin Bet defended itself stating that interrogation is "conducted according to the law. All detainees have the right to file a complaint with the courts or the Red Cross and these will be examined by the Ombudsman of Interrogates’ Complaints.”

Since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967, in excess of 650,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israel, a figure that forms 20% of the total Palestinian population.