[Pnews] Palestinians speak out about torture in PA prison

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Oct 3 17:56:57 EDT 2017


  Palestinians speak out about torture in PA prison

Jacob Burns - 

*Jerusalem -* Palestinian journalist Sami al-Sai had been ordered 
released from the custody of the Palestinian intelligence services in 
Tulkarem in February, but just as he was about to leave, he was 
rearrested and transferred to Jericho prison.

There, he underwent 15 days of interrogation and torture, he told Al 

"They strung me up from the roof of the cell with a rope tied around my 
arms, which were behind me. There was so much pain," he said, noting 
that he was beaten on his feet with a hose during another interrogation 
session. "I couldn't believe the pain … Afterwards, I couldn't walk 
properly; I couldn't reach out my arms."

Sai was released after paying a fine to suspend a three-month sentence 
for links to the Gaza-based Palestinian movement Hamas 

His story fits with a pattern of abuse, which ex-detainees, their 
families, lawyers and human rights 
organisations say is increasingly common in the occupied West Bank 
<http://www.aljazeera.com/topics/subjects/occupied-west-bank.html>, and 
especially Jericho. The prison, they say, is playing a key role in a 
Palestinian security apparatus that has ratcheted up its attempts to 
stifle dissent and imprison political opponents.

"People face torture in many places when they are in [the] custody of 
the Palestinian Authority," said Anas Barghouti, a Ramallah-based human 
rights lawyer. "Many people also face torture in Jericho, but what makes 
it different is that it is especially a place for political prisoners."

Barghouthi told Al Jazeera that a new "security committee", a joint body 
of Palestinian intelligence agencies set up in 2016 in Jericho, has 
increased the power of the security services because they are working 
together and reporting directly to the president. "It was set up to deal 
with people accused of supporting [Mohammed] Dahlan," he said, referring 
to an exiled opponent 
of President Mahmoud Abbas, "but it's now being used as a tool in 
political arrests of different kinds."

A spokesperson for the PA's military prosecution confirmed to Al 
Jazeera that the committee had been set up in 2016 and reported to the 

A man from Hebron 
who spoke to Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity, said that he had been 
held in Jericho prison under the security committee for two months this 
summer, accused of having links to Hamas and possession of 
weapons - charges he denies.

He said it appeared that the security committee wielded great power over 
the judges at his fortnightly detention hearings: "The hearings were a 
joke. It was all for nothing; they just re-detained me immediately." He 
was denied access to a lawyer and tortured by being placed in a stress 
position for up to five hours at a time, he added, noting that he was 
released after paying a bail of 10,000 shekels ($2,800).

Human rights groups have condemned 
the increasing number of arbitrary detentions carried out by Palestinian 
security forces. Ashraf Abu Hayyeh, a legal adviser for Al-Haq, told Al 
Jazeera that the recent detention of Shadi al-Nammoura, a Hamas member 
from Dura, was unprecedented.

Shadi is being held in Jericho prison despite a court having ordered his 
release four times. Initially, Palestinian intelligence services had 
been adding new charges after each release order, but since August 3 - 
aside from a brief period when he was held under the order of the 
governor of Nablus - he has been held without the addition of any new 

"Perhaps in the past, orders for release have been ignored for a day or 
three. That's illegal, still, but this is something new - something that 
we haven't seen before," Hayyeh told Al Jazeera. Letters to the 
authorities regarding the case had gone unanswered, he added.

Shadi's father, Faiz, said his son had served more than seven years in 
Israeli prison before being released last November. The PA then arrested 
him from his workplace in the village on May 25.

"I want to see him again, immediately," Faiz said.

Meanwhile, Noha Halaweh's sitting room in the old city of Nablus is 
lined with pictures of her husband, Ahmed, who was beaten to death in 
Jneid prison by Palestinian security forces on August 23 last year. Five 
of her sons were in Jericho prison on charges related to the violence in 
Nablus that led to her husband's killing. She says they are innocent and 
were simply detained because of who their father was.

"It's a punishment for me to be alone in the house," Halaweh told Al 
Jazeera, noting that one of her sons was tortured in Jericho - hung from 
the ceiling of his cell by his arms. "He used to be like a flower. When 
I visited him, I didn't recognise him."

Adnan Damiri, a spokesperson for the Palestinian security forces, denied 
that any torture took place in Jericho, telling Al Jazeera: "We do not 
torture people. Jericho prison complies with all legal specifications 
and is one of the best in the world in that regard. We are open to human 
rights organisations visiting us."

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, however, say they are living 
through an unprecedented period of repression.

"We've been sliding back in terms of human rights under the PA for 
years," Barghouti said. "Things now are bad, and it could get worse. 
People are scared of the security committee more than any of the 
individual services because they're now all working together as one."

Source: Al Jazeera

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