[Pnews] Hard Evidence on Torture Committed against Palestinian Detainees at Israeli Interrogation Centers

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Dec 23 10:03:32 EST 2019


http://www.addameer.org/news/addameer-collects-hard-evidence-torture-and-ill-treatment-committed-against-palestinian 



  Addameer Collects Hard Evidence on Torture and Ill-Treatment Committed
  against Palestinian Detainees at Israeli Interrogation Centers

December 23, 2019

Since its creation, the occupying state developed and enforced laws and 
practices that led to both the systematic use of torture and to absolute 
impunity for the perpetrator of this crime. There has never been any 
individual or agency held accountable for the well-documented crimes of 
torture and ill-treatment at Israeli prisons and interrogation centers. 
The occupation authorities, in particular, the Israeli intelligence 
agency “Shabak” resorts to torture and ill-treatment as standard 
operating procedure in a systematic and wide-scale approach against 
Palestinian detainees. Over the past three months, the intelligence 
agency subjected a number of detainees at Israeli interrogation centers 
to severe physical and psychological torture without any form of 
monitoring and protection.

Addameer has hard evidence on the crimes of torture and ill-treatment 
committed against a number of detainees held at interrogation centers 
since late August 2019. Addameer was banned from publishing any of the 
details of torture prior to this date, due to a gag order issued by the 
Israeli Court of First Instance in Jerusalem.

On 10 September 2019, a gag order was issued on a number of cases under 
interrogation at al-Mascobiyya interrogation center. Hence, preventing 
the public, including Addameer the legal representative, from publishing 
any information regarding these cases. The gag order was issued based on 
a request from the Israeli intelligence agency and Israeli police and 
was renewed multiple times. Despite the gag order, Israeli media outlets 
and the Israeli intelligence agency published information to the public 
about some of those cases. This inconsistent enforcement of the gag 
order, where the Israeli sources exercised the freedom to publish, can 
only be understood as a means to influence public opinion. Most 
importantly, the issuance of this gag order is an attempt to hide crimes 
committed against the detainees and prevent the public and the legal 
representatives from exposing the details of the crimes of torture and 
ill-treatment that were committed against the detainees in question 
throughout the past months.

/Torture at Israeli interrogation centers /

According to Israeli military laws, a detainee can be held in 
interrogation for a total period of 75 days without receiving any 
official charges. According to these same laws, a detainee can be banned 
from meeting his/her lawyer for a total period of 60 days. Those 
detainees, in particular, were held for extremely long periods of 
interrogation, and were also banned from lawyers’ visits and legal 
consultation. The periods of the ban on meeting the lawyers ranged from 
30 to 45 days in some cases. During the interrogations, the detainees 
suffered from different forms of both physical and psychological 
torture. The methods used against them included, but were not limited to 
harsh beating, sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, stress 
positions, the denial of basic hygiene needs, sexual harassment, 
threatening and intensive psychological torture including the use of 
family members and/or other detainees. The used threats included threats 
of rape, torture, and revocation of residency. The severe torture and 
humiliation these detainees suffered from, led to injuries, broken 
bones, fainting, vomiting, bleedings from different parts of the body 
(nose, mouth, hands, legs[1] and genital area). In addition, the 
detainees also suffered from the false assessment made by doctors at the 
interrogation centers, whom almost in all cases stated that the 
detainees are qualified for interrogations denying the clear signs of 
torture.

A short description of some of the torture techniques:

  * /Positional torture (stress positions): /Israeli intelligence
    officers forced the detainees into a number of stress positions such
    as the banana position,[2] the frog position, sitting on an
    imaginary chair, squatting and many other different positions.
    Almost in all of these stress positions, the detainees would lose
    their balance and fall on the ground, which would lead to a harsh
    beating by the officers and then forcing the detainee back into the
    stress position. Other used stress positions included standing on
    their toes while their hands were shackled above their heads to a
    wall. Another position included sitting on a chair while handcuffed
    to the back, where the hands were positioned on a table behind the
    detainee’s chair. A third position involved the detainee laying on
    the ground with his/her hands chained to each other with iron cuffs
    and positioned behind his/her back. This position also includes
    officers sitting on the detainee to place pressure on his/her body
    while beat him/her ferociously.

  * /Harsh beatings:/ Israeli occupation intelligence officers used
    extreme methods of beatings against the detainees using their hands,
    legs, knees and even their fingers. The officers hit, slapped,
    punched, poked (using their fingers), and kicked the detainees.
    These methods resulted in severe and life-threatening injuries that
    included broken ribs, inability to walk, brutal bruises, swelling
    marks on the skin, ulcer wounds…etc. The officers, who exceeded five
    in number in some cases used to blindfold the detainees’ eyes so
    they would not expect the beating or know where it is coming from.
    Several of those detainees appeared in their court sessions with
    marks on their bodies, expressing severe pain, or in some cases
    arrived on wheelchairs. In one of the cases, the harsh beating was
    committed with the intention to kill the detainee, who was in fact
    transferred to the hospital in serious condition after around 30
    hours of severe and extreme methods of beatings. In another case,
    the harsh beating aimed at injuries caused by a police dog during
    the arrest, the interrogators intended to target those previously
    obtained injuries, which were mainly on the detainee’s genital area
    causing the wounds to re-open twice. Also, in many other cases, the
    method of pulling the facial hair from its roots causing injuries
    and swelling marks was used.
  * /Sleep deprivation:/ this technique was implemented through
    different methods, in some cases the detainees spent around twenty
    days sleeping from one to three hours a day. Even when those
    detainees were sent to their cells to sleep, they would be disturbed
    with loud and eerie sounds made by the prison guards, the voices of
    other detainees being harshly beaten or the sound of knocking on
    their cell doors. In some cases, sleep deprivation ranged from 30 to
    60 continuous hours, where the detainee would not be sent to sleep
    at all during these hours and would be woken up if he/she falls
    asleep during the interrogation. Some detainees were harshly slapped
    on their faces to wake up, others were also splashed with water.
    Detainees described the slaps as extremely severe causing them to
    feel dizzy.
  * /The use of family members (emotional blackmailing):/ psychological
    torture and ill-treatment were used on the majority of these
    detainees, focusing on threats against their family members, and
    loved ones. Israeli occupation forces used the policy of collective
    punishment through arresting and bringing in some of the family
    members mostly to al-Mascobiyya interrogations center and Ofer
    prison. Eight family members for seven different detainees were
    arrested, and another ten family members were brought in for
    questioning. Some of these relatives were kept for a number of days
    while others were kept for hours. In all the cases, family members
    and loved ones were mainly brought in to pressure the detainees
    themselves. The interrogators made the detainees assume that their
    relatives got arrested and will be tortured as well. Relatives
    included fathers, mothers, brothers, daughters, wives, etc.
  * /Interrogation at Israeli secret prisons:/ at least one of the
    detainees Addameer has documented their cases have stated that they
    were taken to unknown centers. The detainee said that the
    interrogators at this center were all face-covered and wearing a
    different uniform than the known usual uniforms. It has been
    revealed in the past that Israel has secret prisons that are removed
    from maps and airbrushed aerial photographs.[3]

These detainees that were subject to torture and ill-treatment in the 
past months were around 50 detainees, almost half of them were subject 
to torture, and all of them suffered ill-treatment. The detainees 
included male and female detainees, they also included university 
students, union workers, human rights defenders, and a PLC member. 
Addameer’s lawyer began collecting hard evidence proving the torture and 
ill-treatment committed against these detainees from the very first day 
the lawyers were permitted to meet them.

*Public International Law*

/Violations of Fair Trial Guarantees/

Israeli military courts completely disregard the fair trial guarantees. 
The cases monitored in the last months are just another proof of the 
fact that the Israeli military court from its creation never met the 
minimum standards of a fair trial. The right to a fair trial is 
enshrined in all the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols. 
[4] According to the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions, depriving a 
protected person a fair and regular trial is a grave breach.[5] 
Additionally, the right to a fair trial is set forth in the 
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and in 
several other international instruments.[6] For example, the UN Human 
Rights Committee in its General Comment on Article 4 of the ICCPR stated 
that the principle of the fair trial cannot be derogated from.[7]

The fair trial guarantees basic principles that are systematically 
violated at the Israeli military courts include, but are not limited to 
the following; trail by an independent, impartial and regularly 
constituted court; presumption of innocence; information on the nature 
and cause of the accusation (right to be informed); necessary rights and 
means of defense (right to counsel); the presence of the accused at the 
trial; and compelling accused persons to testify against themselves or 
to confess guilt.[8]

As mentioned before, there was a gag order effective for a period of 
over three months, due to this gag order the court proceedings were not 
open to the public, and even preventing the family members from 
attending the court sessions. Thus, violating the right *to public 
proceedings*.[9] Also, the majority of the detainees who were included 
in the gag order were also banned from lawyers’ visits and consultation. 
Even in the court sessions that were conducted while the lawyers’ ban 
was effective, detainees were denied to see his/her lawyer. The period 
of the lawyers’ ban orders ranged from 30 days to around 45 days in some 
of the cases, depriving them of their*right to counsel*[10]** in the 
most sensitive period of detention.

Moreover, according to the Israeli military law, a detainee can be held 
without any charges for a total period of 75 days that is subject to 
renewals. In those cases, in particular, the military prosecution 
pressed lists of charges after a period of interrogations that ranged 
from 50 to 60 days in some of the cases. One of the detainees spent more 
than 100 days at al-Mascobiyya interrogation center without knowing all 
of the charges brought against him. Thus, violating detainee’s *right to 
be informed*[11]** of the nature of the accusations brought against them 
without delay. In other cases, the intelligence agency published 
accusations against individuals to the public before presenting them 
with their list of charges at the court. The published statements were 
for a mere political motive as the actual charges pressed against the 
same detainees at the military court are not in line with the published 
accusation.

Furthermore, according to the court sessions’ protocols, detainees have 
shown and expressed their need for urgent medical care by emphasizing 
that they were tortured. Some of the detainees attended their sessions 
in a wheelchair and one was not able to attend a number of his sessions 
due to his medical situation. Still, the judge at the military court in 
all of the cases extended the detention periods for the detainees for 
the purposes of interrogations. In fact, in the past three months, 
Addameer’s lawyers made several appeals to the Israeli military courts 
of appeals on the detention periods and many petitions to the Israeli 
High Court on the orders that ban the detainees from meeting their 
lawyers. All the petitions submitted to the Israeli High Court were 
rejected and around 95 percent of the appeals made to the Israeli 
military court of appeals were also rejected. This shows how the 
military court and High Court are not *independent, impartial and 
regularly constituted courts*[12]** as they prioritize the requests and 
needs of the Israeli intelligence agency without any consideration of 
the detainees’ rights. Most importantly, the insistence of the Israeli 
judges at both courts to extend the interrogation periods with the 
knowledge of the committed torture shows the complicity of this legal 
system in the committed crimes. In fact, the judges also obstructed the 
documentation of torture by attempting to delay the obtaining of medical 
reports and pictures of the bodies of those tortured detainees, rather 
than monitoring and preventing torture, which is their legal obligation. 
Only in one of the cases, the judge ordered the detention center’s 
doctor to document the body of the detainee by taking pictures.

Finally, almost all of those detainees were forced to give confessions 
under torture. The intensity of the interrogations and severity of the 
physical and psychological torture forced the majority of the detainees 
to *testify against themselves, against others, and confess 
guilty.*[13]** At the Israeli military court, those confessions are used 
as the main tool to indict those detainees, in complete disregard of all 
international norms that assert on the inadmissibility of all 
confessions obtained under torture.

/Prohibition of Torture in Public International Law/

Prohibition against torture is one of the most fundamental norms of 
international law that cannot be derogated from. The protection against 
torture under all circumstances is enshrined in both Treaty[14]  and 
Customary International Law.[15] Despite the absolute and non-derogable 
prohibition against torture, enshrined under article (2) of the 
International Convention against Torture and ratified by Israel on 3 
October 1991, torture against Palestinian detainees is systematic and 
widespread in Israeli occupation prisons and interrogation centers. In 
fact, torture has been sanctioned by a series of Israeli High Court 
decisions. In High Court decision number 5100/94 in 1999,[16] the High 
Court made permissible the use of “special means of pressure” in the 
case of a “ticking bomb” scenario, where interrogators believe that a 
suspect is withholding information that could prevent an impending 
threat to civilian lives as stated in Article (1)34 of the Israeli Penal 
Code of 1972. This exception constitutes a grave legal loophole that 
legitimizes the torture and cruel treatment by the Israeli intelligence 
interrogators against Palestinian detainees and also protects 
interrogators who are granted impunity for their crimes.

Moreover, the Israeli High Court, in the Tbeish case number 9018/17 in 
2018,[17] issued a ruling which expanded the concept of a “ticking bomb” 
scenario to include cases that are not imminent security threats. In 
this case, the judge based his ruling on previous decisions and 
broadened the element of immediacy not to be limited with a time frame. 
The Israeli occupying state alleges that the “special measures” they use 
with Palestinian detainees are part of their security measures. However, 
those practices amount to torture and ill-treatment, and even if the 
Israeli allegations were accurate, torture is absolutely prohibited in 
all circumstances including those of security-related measures. 
Furthermore, torture is committed in Israeli interrogation centers 
regardless of the classification of a “ticking bomb situation/special 
measures” torture is used with cases that even include the right to 
affiliation and organize politically.[18]

International legal standards affirm the absolute prohibition of torture 
under all circumstances. For example, the Council of Europe outlined 
guidelines on human rights and fighting terrorism which was adopted by 
the Committee of Ministers on 11 July 2002. The guidelines stated: “The 
use of torture or of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is 
absolutely prohibited, in all circumstances, and in particular during 
the arrest, questioning and detention of a person suspected of or 
convicted of terrorist activities, irrespective of the nature of the 
acts that the person is suspected of or for which he/she was convicted.”[19]

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, stated: 
“The ban on torture and ill-treatment was one of the most fundamental 
norms of international law and could not be justified in any 
circumstances.”[20] He added in the same statement speaking about the 
American prison at Guantanamo Bay that, “By failing to prosecute the 
crime of torture in CIA custody, the U.S. is in clear violation of the 
Convention against Torture and is sending a dangerous message of 
complacency and impunity of officials in the U.S. and around the 
world.”[21] The Israeli occupying state is an outrageous example of 
complicity and absolute impunity for perpetrators of the crimes of 
torture and ill-treatment.

/Conclusion: Impunity for a war crime /

This Israeli illegal occupation has violated all the legal elements of 
an occupation under international law. The Israeli legal system and 
practices are just one example of this violation that aims for 
suppressing and dominating the Palestinian protected population. Crimes 
of torture and denial of a fair trial for Palestinian detainees are not 
limited to one perpetrator. In fact, the agencies complicit in those 
crimes include the intelligence agency, military court, military 
prosecution, Hight Court, and even the medical staff that were involved 
in providing medical care and assessment for those detainees subjected 
to torture and ill-treatment.

According to various human rights organizations fighting against the 
crimes of the occupation, there are no effective domestic mechanisms of 
accountability for the crimes of torture, ill-treatment and the 
deprivation of a fair trial. In point of fact, Addameer, in the last ten 
years, has annually submitted tens of complaints of torture, and only 
one of them, a sexual harassment case, was open for investigation. 
However, rather than pressing a list of charges against the 
perpetrators, in this case, it was closed without indictment. 
Furthermore, according to the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel 
(PCATI), about 1,200 complaints of torture during Israeli interrogations 
have been filed since 2001. All the cases were closed without a single 
indictment.[22]

Finally, Addameer affirms that the Israeli occupying state with all of 
its agencies continues to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. 
According to the Rome Statute, the denial of a fair and regular trial is 
a war crime (Article 8 (2)(a) (vi)). Additionally, torture is a war 
crime (Article 8 (2)(a) (ii)) and if committed in a systematic and 
wide-scale approach it also amounts to a crime against humanity (Article 
7 (1)(f)).[23]

Addameer calls on the international community to hold Israel accountable 
for its war crime and crimes against humanity and to put an end to its 
sanctioned absolute impunity.


------------------------------------------------------------------------

[1] The hands and legs of those detainees suffered great injuries mainly 
due to the cuffs used to chain them for long hours.

[2] The banana position is a position in which the detainee’s legs 
cuffed to the lower part of a chair (the back of the chair is positioned 
to the side) and his hands cuffed to each other and pressured by the 
interrogators to the lower part of the chair. This position would mean 
that the detainee’s body would form an arch. Usually, when the detainee 
is forced into this position, the interrogators beat the detainee 
harshly on the chest and stomach. Interrogators put a blanket or a 
pillow on the floor behind the chair, since detainees usually fall with 
the chair to the floor, due to the intensity the body is exposed.

[4] First Geneva Convention, Article 49; Second Geneva Convention, 
Article 50; Third Geneva Convention, Articles 102–108; Fourth Geneva 
Convention, Articles 5 and 66–75; Additional Protocol I, Article 75(4); 
Additional Protocol II, Article 6(2).The principle of the right to fair 
trial is also provided for in Article 17(2) of the Second Protocol to 
the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property.

[5] Third Geneva Convention, Article 130; Fourth Geneva Convention, 
Article 147; Additional Protocol I, Article 85(4)(e).

[6] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 14(1) 
(ibid., § 2796); Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 
40(2)(b)(iii) (ibid., § 2802); European Convention on Human Rights, 
Article 6(1) (ibid., § 2795); American Convention on Human Rights, 
Article 8(1) (ibid., § 2797); African Charter on Human and Peoples’ 
Rights, Article 7 (ibid., § 2801).

[7] UN Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 29 (Article 4 of the 
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) (ibid., § 2998).

[9] Third Geneva Convention, Article 105; Fourth Geneva Convention, 
Article 74; Additional Protocol I, Article 75(4)(i); ICC Statute, 
Article 64(7); ICTY Statute, Article 20(4); ICTR Statute, Article 19(4); 
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 14(1).

[10] First Geneva Convention, Article 49; Second Geneva Convention, 
Article 50; Third Geneva Convention, Article 84, and Article 96; Fourth 
Geneva Convention, Article 72, and Article 123; Additional Protocol I, 
Article 75(4)(a); Additional Protocol II, Article 6(2)(a). Also, 
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 14(3).

[11] Third Geneva Convention, Article 96, and Article 105; Fourth Geneva 
Convention, Article 71, and Article 123; Additional Protocol I, Article 
75(4)(a); Additional Protocol II, Article 6(2)(a). Also, International 
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 14(3)(a); Convention on 
the Rights of the Child, Article 40(2)(b)(ii).

[12] Third Geneva Convention, Article 84; Additional Protocol II, 
Article 6(2); Additional Protocol I, Article 75(4); International 
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 14(1); European 
Convention on Human Rights, Article 6(1).

[13] Third Geneva Convention, Article 99; Additional Protocol I, Article 
75(4)(f); Additional Protocol II, Article 6(2)(f); ICC Statute, Article 
55(1)(a); International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 
14(3)(g); Convention against Torture, Article 15.

[14] First Geneva Convention, Article 12; Second Geneva Convention, 
Article 12; Third Geneva Convention, Article 17; fourth paragraph 
(“physical or mental torture”) Article 87, Article 89 (“inhuman, brutal 
or dangerous” disciplinary punishment), and Article 32; Additional 
Protocol I, Article 75(2); Additional Protocol II, Article 4(2); ICC 
Statute, Article 8(2)(c)(i) and (ii); International Covenant on Civil 
and Political Rights, Article 7; European Convention on Human Rights, 
Article 3.

[16] HCJ 5100/94, /Public Committee Against Torture in Israel et al. v. 
Government of Israel et al./, Judgment. An English translation of the 
Court decision is available at: 
http://www.hamoked.org/files/2012/264_eng.pdf [accessed 5 December 2019].

[19] Guidelines on human rights and the fight against terrorism adopted 
by the Committee of Ministers on 11 July 2002 at the 804th meeting of 
the Ministers’ Deputies

[22] Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Torture in Israel 2019: 
Situation Report,  it can be found here:  Situation Report 2019 
<http://stoptorture.org.il/2927/?lang=en>.

-- 
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