[News] Why is the EU funding Israeli torturers?

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jun 28 10:32:04 EDT 2017


  Why is the EU funding Israeli torturers?

Ali Abunimah <https://electronicintifada.net/people/ali-abunimah> - 27 
June 2017


The European Union is illegally funding Israeli torturers and must stop, 
a group of prominent international legal experts has concluded.

They say 
that the LAW-TRAIN program violates EU regulations and international law 
because one of the participants, Israel’s public security ministry, “is 
responsible for or complicit in torture, other crimes against humanity 
and war crimes.”

LAW-TRAIN began in May 2015 with the ostensible aim of “harmonizing and 
sharing interrogation techniques between the countries involved in order 
to face the new challenges in transnational criminality.”

It is funded through an EU research program called Horizon 2020 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/horizon-2020>, which has also 
channeled millions of dollars to Israel’s arms industry 

    Extensive use of torture

LAW-TRAIN involves <http://www.law-train.eu/partners/> Israel’s Bar-Ilan 
University <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/bar-ilan-university-0>, 
the Israeli public security ministry 
Belgium’s Catholic University of Leuven, the Belgian justice ministry, 
Spain’s Civil Guard paramilitary police and the Romanian police. Its 
advisory board includes Cornelia Geldermans, a prosecutor in the 

Portugal was originally involved, but pulled out last year 
in the face of mounting public opposition to Israel’s role in the EU 

LAW-TRAIN is scheduled to run until April 2018 and half of its nearly $6 
million budget will go to the Israeli participants.

“The use of torture by Israeli interrogators has been extensively 
documented in the international and Israeli press and confirmed by 
international investigators and by Israeli interrogators themselves,” 
Michel Waelbroeck, the author of the legal opinion and a member of the 
Institute of International Law, stated. “In June 2016, the UN Committee 
against Torture denounced Israel’s use of torture and its illegal, 
abusive techniques during interrogations by its police and prison staff.”

The opinion is endorsed by 25 international legal experts and jurists, 
including former UN human rights investigators Richard Falk 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/richard-falk> and John Dugard 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/john-dugard>, and Laurens Jan 
Brinkhorst, a former Dutch deputy prime minister and former director 
general at the European Commission.

Israel has a well-documented record of torture, including against 
and has systematically failed to investigate 
complaints of abuse.

    Illegal funding

In February, hundreds of Belgian academics and artists 
urged their government to end its support for LAW-TRAIN, and questions 
have been raised about the project in the European Parliament.

Human rights organizations from Palestine, Belgium and Spain have also 
written to EU officials 
expressing concern about the support for Israeli entities engaged in 

As opposition to LAW-TRAIN grew, the European Commission, the EU’s 
executive bureaucracy, conducted an evaluation 
by an “independent expert panel” that concluded the program had “Good to 
excellent compliance” with EU laws, including the European Charter of 
Fundamental Rights.

But the legal experts say that the review ignored key EU regulations 
that ban funding to individuals or organizations that engage in “grave 
professional misconduct” such as torture.

The legal experts conclude that because Israel’s public security 
ministry is “guilty of grave and continuing breaches” of European and 
international prohibitions on torture, the EU funding is illegal.

But far from taking action to hold Israel accountable for torture, 
Carlos Moedas, the EU’s head of research, recently visited Israel 
to celebrate its involvement in Horizon 2020.

    Protest in France

While top EU officials tighten their embrace 
of Israel’s regime of occupation, apartheid and settler-colonialism over 
Palestinians, European citizens are continuing to urge an end to such 

Activists from BDS France held this protest 
outside the pavilion of the Israeli arms maker Elbit Systems 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/elbit> at the Paris Air Show on 

The protesters can be seen in the video staging a “die-in” and holding a 
banner denouncing Israel for testing its weapons on Palestinians 

The protesters called for an arms embargo, an end to military 
cooperation with Israel and support for the boycott, divestment and 
sanctions campaign.

Elbit is a major manufacturer of drones that Israel has used to kill 
Palestinian civilians 
It was contracted by the Obama administration 
to provide surveillance technology along the US-Mexico border 

Elbit has also been a big recipient of European Union funds.

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