Al Jazeera Reports –
Blindfolded and beaten: Palestinians decry PA torture
Rights groups cite lack of accountability among PA security forces as a factor in persistent torture allegations.
Nablus, occupied West Bank – Had he not been blindfolded and shackled to a chair in a Palestinian Authority (PA) prison cell, Awni Mazen al-Shakhshir might have spent the first evening of Ramadan last year breaking the day’s fast with his family in Nablus.
Shakhshir said that throughout the first week of his 41-day detention, PA interrogators in Bethlehem forced him into stress positions, punched and kicked him, and deprived him of sleep.
By day, Shakhshir was blindfolded and shackled to a chair, he said. At night, after the guards had eaten and slept for much of the afternoon, the violent interrogations would begin. “They saved the beating till night,” Shakhshir said, “because it was Ramadan.”
Palestinian rights group al-Haq has identified 30 cases of Palestinian torture at the hands of the PA, as defined by the United Nations Convention Against Torture, since this time last year. Each case was “politically motivated”, according to the victims, al-Haq legal consultant Issam Abdeen told Al Jazeera.
According to Abdeen, al-Haq has anecdotally seen an overall increase in the number of testimonies that allege torture since the PA became a signatory to the UN anti-torture convention in April 2014, as part of Palestine’s accession to observer status at the UN. The ICHR has similarly found that little progress has been made since the PA signed the convention.
“We have witnessed an increased interest in human rights within PA security forces since the signing of the human rights treaties and conventions, [but] very little has changed since the signing of [the convention] in terms of practice,” said the ICHR’s West Bank programme director, Musa Abu Dheim.
As I’ve said before, we need a UN Regional Human Rights / Terrorism Court to be established in East Jerusalem, NOW, more than ever!