Hamas on Wednesday dismissed as “politically biased” a report by Human Rights
Watch (HRW) that accused the Islamist movement of torturing
The Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry in the Gaza Strip
described the report as “purely political” and claimed it had been written
“under the influence of various external parties.” The group also expressed
disappointment that the report did not refer to human rights violations under
the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
Hamas also denied that its
security forces had been torturing Palestinian detainees.
report, published Wednesday, said that Palestinians face serious abuses in the
Hamas criminal justice system, including arbitrary arrest, incommunicado
detention, torture and unfair trials. It also said that since Hamas took control
of the Gaza Strip in 2007, it had executed at least three men convicted on the
basis of “confessions” apparently obtained by torture.
extensive violations by Hamas security services, including arrests without
warrants, failure to promptly inform families of detainees’ whereabouts, and
subjecting detainees to torture. It also showed violations of detainees’ rights
by prosecutors and courts.
Military courts in the Gaza Strip frequently
try civilians in violation of international law, HRW found. Prosecutors often
deny detainees access to a lawyer and courts have failed to uphold due-process
rights in cases of arrests without warrants and abusive
“After five years of Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip, its
criminal justice reeks of injustice, routinely violates detainees’ rights, and
grants impunity to abusive security services,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle
East director at HRW. “Hamas should stop the kinds of abuses that Egyptians,
Syrians and others in the region have risked their lives to bring to an
The report pointed out that Hamas authorities had failed to
investigate and prosecute abusive security officials and in practice granted
them impunity from prosecution, in particular those in the internal security
Witnesses told HRW that the Hamas Internal Security agency, the
drug unit of the civil police and other detectives all torture
The Independent Commission for Human Rights, a nonpartisan
Palestinian rights group, reported receiving 147 complaints of torture by
various Hamas security agencies in 2011 alone.
The HRW report found that
some of the abuse cases were against Palestinians detained on suspicion of
collaborating with Israel or the Palestinian Authority.
“There is ample
evidence that Hamas security services are torturing people in custody with
impunity and denying prisoners their rights,” Stork said.
authorities should stop ignoring the abuse and ensure that the justice system
respects Palestinians’ rights.”