Julie Webb-Pullman reports

Posts tagged “Torture

PALESTINIAN PRISONERS DAY: AL-ISSAWI NEXT TO DIE?

PRESS RELEASE
MAD – Media Activists for Detainees

Will Samer Al-Issawi die in an Israeli jail, just like Maysara AbuHamdiya? Or will the international community move today, the International Day for Palestinian Prisoners, to save his life?

GAZA CITY — These are the questions today preying on the minds of 32 sick Palestinians in Israeli jails. Along with, “Which of us will be next?”

Maysara AbuHamdiya, a prisoner for over ten years, died this month following lack of timely medical treatment for throat cancer. Samer Al-Issawi faces imminent heart failure after more than 270 days hunger striking in protest against Israel’s policy of administration detention, and inhumane conditions in Israeli jails.

“My health has deteriorated greatly but I will continue my hunger strike until victory or martyrdom. This is my last remaining stone to throw…” Al-Issawi said in his last letter from prison.

Palestinian Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees reports that as at 31 March 2013 there were 1,200 sick Palestinians prisoners inside Israeli jails, 14 of whom have cancer and 18 of whom are confined in the Ramle Prison Clinic.

Israel shows no signs of introducing minimum standards of medical care anytime soon. In a report titled The Palestinian Prisoners Hunger Strikes of 2012 Physicians For Human Rights-Israel made recommendations regarding the urgent need to transfer prison medical services from the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) to the Ministry of Health, due to the dilemmas of dual loyalty of IPS medical staff and the primacy given to political and security considerations at the expense of prisoners’ health and well-being. It is not to be.

In response to their recommendations, “…the Ministry maintained that supervision and control over the medical services of prisoners would remain under the auspices of the IPS, thereby thwarting our request…” Physicians For Human Rights-Israel stated on their website this week.

Thus despite the best efforts of even local Israeli human rights groups, the dire situation for ailing Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails remains unchanged.

Will Al-Issawi be the 204th Palestinian to die in Israeli custody since 1967? Or will the International Day for Palestinians Prisoners spur the international community into snatching him from the jaws of death?

Issued by: MAD – Media Activists for Detainees, Gaza
Contact:madinfo@hushmail.com

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About MAD

Who is MAD? We are! We are Media Activists for Detainees, a collective of young Gazans who are MAD about the use of administrative detention by Israeli authorities to imprison Palestinians without charge. We are MAD about the torture to which our brothers and sisters are subjected during interrogation. We are MAD about the conditions under which they are held in Israeli jails, from lack of timely and adequate medical treatment, to years of solitary confinement, rotten food, strip searches of both detainees and visiting family members, violent midnight cell-raids, random beatings, and the with-holding of family visits.

We are MAD, and we are dangerous – but only to those who with-hold basic human rights from detainees in Israeli jails – and only by exposing their abuses to the world.

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14 Palestinian and Israeli Organisations Condemn Lack of Accountability for Torture of Palestinian Detainees

PRESS RELEASE
Al Haq

Friday, 01 March 2013 Ref.: 44/2013

The Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council (PHROC), along with Adalah, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, express their outrage at the death of Arafat Jaradat, 30, which, according to the autopsy report of Dr Saber al-‘Aloul, Director of the Palestinian Medico-legal Institute, was caused by torture and ill-treatment inflicted while in Israeli custody. The preliminary autopsy, to which there are links below, found that Arafat displayed severe bruising on his upper back, deep bruising along the spine, and significant bruising on both sides of the chest. The postmortem also discovered bruising on both arms and inside the mouth, blood around the nose and three fractured ribs. In addition, the examination discounted the claim by the Israeli authorities that Arafat died of a heart attack. His heart was completely healthy and there was no evidence of damage or weakness of any kind. The report concludes that all injuries were the result of very recent, severe and direct torture. The undersigned organisations reiterate the demands made by UN representatives for an immediate international investigation into the death of Arafat Jaradat with a view to holding those responsible for his death accountable.

Arafat Jaradat was arrested on 18 February on suspicion of throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at settlers and was transferred to al-Jalameh prison where he confessed to throwing stones but denied any involvement with firebombs. On 21 February, his lawyer, Mr. Kamil Sabbagh, reported that Arafat was suffering from severe pain in his back and appeared to be psychologically and physically weak after three days under interrogation. According to Mr. Sabbagh, Arafat also expressed strong fear at the prospect of returning to interrogation when his detention order was extended by 12 days. After a request from Mr. Sabbagh, the Israeli military judge ordered that a full physical and psychological examination of Arafat be carried out, the results of which were to be presented to the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) and the court. It is unclear if this medical examination ever took place. If it did, the results of the exam should be disclosed. If it did not, the Israeli authorities must explain why this order was not complied with.

The absolute prohibition against torture is a peremptory norm of international law and “has now become one of the most fundamental standards of the international community”[1]. Since 2001, there have been more than 750 complaints of torture and ill-treatment against the ISA. Not one complaint has resulted in a criminal investigation. Indeed, given that all complaints are reviewed by the Inspector of Interrogee Complaints, who is himself an ISA agent, it is a process that guarantees the absence of credible and impartial investigations. The fact that the Israeli Attorney General has ratified each recommendation not to investigate is further evidence of the institutional impunity which shields the ISA and those who commit torture in Israeli prisons.

Article 12 of UN Convention Against Torture, of which Israel is a State Party, obliges States to perform prompt and impartial investigations in all alleged incidents of torture. Torture is also considered a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and is further listed as both a crime against humanity and a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In addition, torture has permissive universal jurisdiction according to customary international law, which allows any State to prosecute those accused of torture, regardless of their nationality.

However, in 1999, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruling in the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel v The State of Israel contributed significantly to the current climate of impunity, shielding those who commit torture. While the Court affirmed that the practice of torture was prohibited, it also held that such prohibition would not apply in cases of “necessity”, leaving room for the use of extreme measures in arbitrarily-defined situations, in blatant contradiction to the jus cogens status of the absolute prohibition of torture. The ruling effectively allowed for the continuing use of torture by affirming that an Israeli official charged with torture would not be criminally liable by virtue of the “necessity defence”, which can legitimise the use of “physical pressure” in certain circumstances.

In 2009, the UN Committee Against Torture reiterated its call on Israel to remove ‘necessity’ as a justification for the crime of torture as well as calling for all interrogations to be recorded on film. These demands have been ignored. In short, while torture is a crime that the international community maintains cannot be allowed to go unpunished, in Israel both the High Court of Justice and the Attorney General contribute to the lack of accountability that pervades the Israeli judicial system. Unless this culture of impunity is challenged, Palestinians in Israeli prisons will continue to be victims of torture and ill-treatment with regularity.

Arafat’s death is symptomatic of the utter disregard with which Israel holds the lives of Palestinian prisoners. Since the beginning of the occupation in 1967, 203 Palestinians have died in Israeli detention centres. At least 71 of these died as a direct result of torture.[2] One hundred and seventy eight Palestinians are being held in administrative detention without charge or trial or any access to the information upon which their detention is based. Presently, ten Palestinians are engaged in hunger strikes in protest against their detention. Tarek Qa’adan and Jafar Azzidine, who spent more than 90 days on hunger strike and are in critical condition, have suspended their strikes for a week ahead of a court hearing on 6 March in the hope that their detention orders will be dismissed. Both men had their administrative detention orders renewed for another three months on Friday 22 February.

In light of the above, the undersigned organisations call for the following steps to be taken:

– An international investigation into all complaints of torture by Israeli forces must be carried out, followed by effective accountability for those responsible and redress for victims;
– All ISA interrogations of Palestinians must be subject to video recording, in line with the recommendations of the Turkel Commission;
– Given that Israel does not offer due process or a fair trial to Palestinian prisoners, all administrative detainees should be promptly released;
– The UN Committee Against Torture and Third States should pressure Israel to adopt adequate criminal legislation to define and penalise torture under domestic Israeli law;
– The European Parliament must promptly activate the parliamentary fact-finding mission that includes members of its Subcommittee on Human Rights to investigate the conditions of detention and interrogation of Palestinians detained by Israel;
– The EU parliamentary fact-finding mission must include an investigation into Israel’s illegal practice of administrative detention and the use of the “Unlawful Combatant Law”;
– All hunger strikers in advanced stages must be moved immediately to civilian hospitals where they can receive the appropriate standard of care without being shackled;
– Immediate intervention from the IPS to provide all hunger strikers with unrestricted access to independent doctors;
– All hunger strikers should be allowed family visits;
– UN Member States should urgently put pressure on Israel to end its policy of arbitrary detention and to abide by the standard rules for the treatment of prisoners adopted in 1955, which set out what is generally accepted as being decent principle and practice in the treatment of prisoners.

Preliminary Autopsy Report

Original Arabic report
Unofficial English translation of report

[1] Prosecutor v Furundžija (Judgment, Trial Chamber) ICTY-95-17/1 (10 December 1998), para. 59.

[2] Data on file with Addameer.

SIGNATORY ORGANISATIONS:
Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minorities in Israel

Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association
Sahar Francis
General Director

Aldameer Association for Human Rights
Khalil Abu Shammala
General Director

PCHRS

Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies
Iyad Barghouti
General Director

Al-Haq
Shawan Jabarin
General Director

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
Issam Younis
General Director

Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
Najwa Darwish
General Director

Defence for Children International
Palestine Section
Rifat Kassis
General Director

Ensan Center for Human Rights and Democracy
Shawqi Issa
General Director

Hurryyat – Centre for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights
Helmi Al-araj
General Director

Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights
Issam Aruri
General Director

Public Committe Against Torture

Physicians for Human Rights – Israel

Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling
Maha Abu Dayyeh
General Director


Gaza’s lawyers take to the streets for Jaradat

DSC04244d

Gazan judges and lawyers marched through the city to Al Jundy, demanding justice – read about it here in Alray Online

and watch the video below


Jaradat – Palestine’s Biko

from Alray Online

Jaradat

by Julie Webb-Pullman

The West Bank and Gaza have erupted in rage at the Israeli murder-by-torture of 30 year-old Palestinian father of two Arafat Shahin Jaradat, the 79th prisoner to die in Israeli jails since 2000 due to torture, medical neglect, excessive use of force during interrogation, or execution by arresting officers.

As the results of his autopsy circle the world, the western media is finally wakening from its slumber, to report on the latest Israeli atrocity.

Six broken bones in Jaradat’s neck, spine, arms and legs are only the beginning of the story. The autopsy also revealed evidence of severe torture on the muscle of the upper left shoulder, parallel to the spine in the lower neck area, and evidence of severe torture under the skin and inside the muscle of the right side of the chest. His second and third ribs on the right side of the chest were broken, and he also had injuries in the middle of the muscle in his right hand.

At a news conference in Ramallah this evening the PA Minister of Detainee Affairs Issa Qaraqe said, “The evidence corroborates our suspicion that Mr. Jaradat died as a result of torture, especially since the autopsy clearly proved that the victim’s heart was healthy, which disproves the initial alleged account presented by occupation authorities that he died of a heart attack.”

Jaradat’s lawyer Kameel Sabbagh said in a statement today that at his court appearance last Thursday in relation to a stone-throwing incident in November, Arafat Jaradat appeared hunched, sick, and fragile.

“He told me that he had serious pains in his back and other parts of his body because he was being beaten up and hanged for many long hours while he was being investigated.”

The Judge postponed the hearing for 12 days, and Sabbagh said, “When Jaradat heard that the judge postponed his hearing he seemed extremely afraid and asked me if he was going to spend the time left in the cell.”

Because of his concern for his client’s serious psychological state, Sabbagh said he informed the judge his client had been tortured. The judge ordered that Jaradat should be examined by the prison doctor but “this didn’t happen.”

One cannot but recall South African anti-apartheid martyr Steve Biko, who died alone and naked on the floor of a Pretoria Central Prison cell on 12 September 1977, following an “untreated head injury sustained during interrogation” by South African Security Police on 07 September, some 17 days after his detention.

Despite the police physician recommending Biko’s transfer to hospital after he fell into a continual, semi-conscious state, Biko was transported lying naked and shackled in the back of a Land Rover on a 12-hour 1,200 km journey to Pretoria, where he died a few hours after arrival.

The parallels don’t end there – the Biko killers’ first excuse was that Biko died of a hunger strike – one the Israeli’s clearly couldn’t try for fear of drawing even more attention to the critical health conditions of hunger-striking Palestinian detainees Ayman Sharawna, Samer Issawi, Jafar Azzidine, Yousef Yassin and Tarek Qa’adan – so they went for the ‘heart attack’ line. Now that the autopsy has exposed that for the shameless lie it was, we can probably expect the Israeli equivalent of the South African second fall-back position, an Israeli version of the “hit his head against a wall in a scuffle” number.

Another question that must be asked in common, as it was in the Biko case – who encouraged the Israeli forces to act in the manner that they did?

It has been widely reported that when the soldiers arrested Jaradat, they told him “say goodbye to your wife and your babies, you won’t be seeing them again,” strong evidence that they intended to kill him from the moment of his arrest.

In Biko’s case it was the threat of impending unity between the previously-antagonistic black consciousness activists of whom Biko was a leading figure, and the African National Congress (ANC), that struck fear into the hearts of South African apartheid security police.

The threat of impending unity between Palestinian factions is not only a fear, but fast becoming a painful reality for Israeli security forces.

It remains to be seen whether the PA can be bought for $1 million – according to Channel 10 in Israel today, Netanyahu instructed Israeli authorities to transfer the PA its tax revenues for January, “so that they won’t have an excuse not to enforce calm on the ground.”

So far at least, the PA remains unmoved, with Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Abbas aide, responding that it is Israel’s treatment of prisoners and anti-Palestinian violence by Jewish settlers that is the cause of the unrest.

Netanyahu’s callous, calculated and cynical disregard for the death of Jaradat echoes that of Jimmy Kruger, then South African Minister of Justice, who sent waves of outrage through the world with his comment “Biko’s death leaves me cold.”

The brutal circumstances of Steve Biko’s death saw such an international outcry that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) finally responded by imposing an arms embargo against South Africa.

So too should the death of Arafat Shahin Jaradat finally wake the western world from its torpor, to rein in the rogue state of Israel from its relentless riding roughshod over the rights – and lives – of Palestinians.

So too should the death of Arafat Shahin Jaradat finally wake the UNSC from its torpor, to impose an arms embargo against Israel.

The five policemen who murdered Steve Biko finally admitted their guilt 20 years later, when seeking amnesty from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1997.

Among its findings were the following:

“The Commission finds that the death in detention of Mr Stephen Bantu Biko on 12 September 1977 was a gross human rights violation. Magistrate Marthinus Prins found that the members of the SAP were not implicated in his death. The magistrate’s finding contributed to the creation of a culture of impunity in the SAP. Despite the inquest finding no person responsible for his death, the Commission finds that, in view of the fact that Biko died in the custody of law enforcement officials, the probabilities are that he died as a result of injuries sustained during his detention.”

Palestinians are not prepared to wait 20 years for an official finding of what the whole world knows today, following the autopsy – the death in Israeli detention of Arafat Shahin Jaradat on 23 February 2013 was a gross human rights violation. It was the 79th such gross human rights violation since 2000.

Palestinians are not prepared to wait 20 years for an official finding regarding the culture of impunity for Israeli prison authorities. There are at least 4,500 examples of them today, right under our noses in prisons throughout Israel, four of whom are at death’s door.

Palestinian are not prepared to wait 20 years to decide that the probabilities are that Arafat Shahin Jaradat died as a result of injuries sustained during his detention.

They know that, already.

Biko’s death was not in vain – nor will be that of Jaradat.

Israel – and the international community – ignore that at their peril.