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(en) Palestine, LAW, PCATI, OMCT Welcome Conclusions CAT

From "LAW Media Unit" <media@lawsociety.org>
Date Sat, 24 Nov 2001 04:39:49 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

LAW - The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the 
The Public Committee against Torture In Israel (PCATI)	
The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

Press Release

23 November 2001

Three NGOs - Palestinian, Israeli and International - Welcome conclusions 
of UN Committee against Torture on Israel

LAW, PCATI and OMCT welcome the Conclusions and Recommendations of the UN 
Committee Against Torture and commend the Committee’s courage in 
defending the crucial right to freedom from torture and other cruel, 
inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. The Committee took a firm 
stand against attempts to erode these rights  in the name of “the fight 
against terrorism” and reiterated that “no exceptional circumstances may 
be invoked as a justification of torture.”

The three organizations had jointly submitted to the Committee 
comprehensive reports covering many issues relevant to Israel’s treatment 
of Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territories under the UN 
Convention against Torture, in particular, Israel’s treatment of 
Palestinian detainees including children, and Israel’s policies of 
closure, house demolitions and destruction of agricultural land.

At the Committee sessions in Geneva, Israel continued to argue that the 
Landau interrogation methods did not constitute torture or even cruel, 
inhuman or degrading treatment, but were merely “unpleasant.” LAW, PCATI 
and OMCT were extremely concerned by Israel’s misinterpretation of 
crucial provisions of the Convention and its complete disregard of the 
previous findings of the Committee, which has repeatedly stated that 
these methods amount to torture. On 6 September 1999, the Landau 
interrogation methods were outlawed by the Israeli High Court. In an 
attempt to legitimise the use of practices and policies which amount to 
torture and other ill-treatment, the Israeli delegation presented, among 
others, the following arguments:  

·	Claims that in exceptional circumstances (“ticking bomb cases”) 
it would be justified to use force to in order to extract information 
from suspects when the Convention against Torture clearly and 
specifically prohibits torture under any circumstances; 

·	Claims that the Convention against Torture is inapplicable to 
situations of armed conflict and that only international humanitarian law 
applies to such situations, when Israel consistently also claims that 
humanitarian law does not apply to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, 
and when the Convention against Torture specifically refers to situations 
of war.
·	Claims that cruel, inhuman and degrading methods, such as house 
demolitions and closures, are not used as collective punishment and that 
therefore these were acceptable under international law in general and 
under the Convention in particular, when such policies have clearly lead 
to the suffering and even death of innocent civilians.

In view of the above, LAW, PCATI and OMCT are pleased that the Committee 
has firmly rejected Israel’s judicial justification of acts prohibited 
under the Convention, expressed concern at “numerous allegations of 
torture and other ill-treatment,” as well as at Israel’s other policies 
amounting to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment 
including administrative detentions, house demolitions and closure, and 
recommended legislative, administrative and practical changes to address 
these concerns.

At the end of a week in which five Palestinian children were 
inadvertently killed in consequence of Israel’s policies of what it 
calls “targeted killings,” the three organisations note with satisfaction 
the Committee’s expression of concern over such policies

While welcoming the Committee’s Conclusions and Recommendations LAW, 
PCATI and OMCT would nevertheless wish to underline certain issues where 
the Committee’s Conclusions fall short of what, the organisations 
believe, would have been  necessary to ensure full compliance with the 
Convention against Torture:

·	The Committee’s reference to “real time judicial review of 
persons under detention to the Supreme Court” as a “positive aspect” is 
unwarranted in view of the fact that Palestinian detainees held 
incommunicado for days and weeks have no means of contacting the outside 
world, let alone the Supreme Court, to complain of torture or other ill-
·	The Committee’s reference to the fact that “since 1994, the 
responsibility for investigation of complaints against the Israel 
Security Agency (ISA) has been transferred to the Ministry of Justice” as 
a “positive aspect” is unwarranted in view of the fact, admitted by the 
Israeli delegation, that all such complaints are referred by the Ministry 
of Justice to be investigated by an “ISA” agent and its conclusions are 
based solely on that agent’s reports. Since 1994, not a single GSS agent 
has been criminally charged of ill-treating a detainee, which is clear 
evidence that a system of full impunity for “ISA” agents is at work.
·	The Committee’s assertion that “Israeli policies of closure… may, 
in certain instances, amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or 
punishment,” is unnecessarily circumspect, in view of the fact that 
not “certain” but hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, including 
children, the sick, the wounded, the elderly and women in labour have 
clearly suffered under these deliberate policies, and dozens have died. 
For this reason LAW, PCATI and OMCT consider that the suffering caused by 
Israel’s policy of closure, e.g. on the sick, effectively amounts to 
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. 
Similarly, the Committee’s assertion that “Israeli policies on house 
demolitions… may, in certain instances, amount to cruel, inhuman or 
degrading treatment or punishment” is unnecessarily circumspect, in view 
of the fact that many hundreds of Palestinian homes have been demolished 
in the last year alone, either to punish a whole neighbourhood or to 
punish the family of a suspected person, or on grounds of “illegal” 
building whilst it is virtually impossible to obtain building permits for 
Palestinians from the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. This is in 
violation of international law and clearly has caused suffering not 
to “certain” but to thousands of innocent men, women and children.

LAW, PCATI and OMCT encourage other UN treaty-bodies as well as other 
mechanisms to follow the steps of the Committee against Torture in 
condemning Israel’s policies of torture and other cruel, inhuman and 
degrading treatment or punishment, and to take further steps to ensure 
that such policies are halted immediately. 

LAW - The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the 
Environment is a non-governmental organisation dedicated to preserving 
human rights through legal advocacy. LAW is affiliate to the 
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the Federation Internationale 
des Ligues de Droits de l'Homme (FIDH) and the World Organisation 
Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).

LAW - The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the 
Environment, PO Box 20873, Jerusalem, tel. +972-2-5833530, fax. +972-2-
5833317, email: law@lawsociety.org, web: http://www.lawsociety.org

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