The Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank have been using
torture on a widespread and systematic basis for several years, according to a
report by the Arab Organization for Human Rights in Britain.
techniques used in PA prisons included shabh (hanging) of all kinds, beatings
with cables, pulling out nails, suspension from the ceiling, flogging, kicking,
cursing, electric shocks, sexual harassment and the threat of rape, the report
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A top PA official in Ramallah dismissed the report as “unreliable”
and “full of lies.”
The official claimed that the Arab Organization for
Human Rights in Britain was affiliated with Hamas and other Islamic
At least six Palestinians have died under torture
in PA prisons and many former detainees have permanent physical disabilities,
the report found.
The human rights organization said that it has
documented such “crimes” for three years – from October 2007 to October
During that period – the report said – PA security forces in the
West Bank detained 8,640 Palestinians at a rate of eight arrests per
“Every one of those detainees has been subject to humiliating and
degrading treatment and stayed in cells for more than 10 days,” the report said.
“The analysis shows that an astonishing 95 percent of the detainees were
subjected to severe torture, others feeling the detrimental effects on their
health for varying periods.”
The report also found that 77% of those who
had been detained by the PA security forces had been arrested in the past by
Representatives of the organization met with victims, or their
relatives, and distributed a questionnaire, in secret, to detainees who were
held in PA prisons.
“Men and women from all sectors of Palestinian
society have been subject to arrest and torture,” the report said. “These
include students, workers, teachers, doctors, engineers, university professors
The study quoted detainees as complaining that the torture
most were exposed to was shabh in its various forms (some reported that they
were hung from the second floor, upside down, like a slaughtered animal). It
said that many others also complained about severe beatings with sticks and
hoses, threats of rape and sleep deprivation for lengthy periods.
order to put pressure on detainees, close relatives, even minors, are brought to
the interrogation center, where they may be tortured in front of the detainee in
order to try to force a confession of guilt,” the report said. “Charges laid
against detainees by the PA are often the same as those used by the Israeli
occupation forces, namely membership in a militia, terrorism, sedition and
organizing against the PA.”
The report named the Preventive Security
Service as the group responsible for most of the detentions and torture. This
group has 17 detention centers.
It’s followed by the General Intelligence
Service, which also has 17 detention centers, and the Military Intelligence
Service, with only 11 detention centers.
“The detention centers of all
security services have one thing in common – they all operate outside the law,”
the human rights organization concluded. “Under the current laws in the PA
areas, reform and rehabilitation centers are the only places where detention is
permitted. Those run by the security services are not subject to any judicial
The organization called for bringing to trial all those alleged
to have committed acts of torture. It also urged the donor countries,
particularly the EU, to act accordingly.
considerations and influence means that little is being done in this respect,”
the group’s report charged.
“The EU’s response is not consistent with the
obligations of states on both the legal and moral levels, where its support for
the PA, despite the prevalence of torture, is contrary to international law and
the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms Convention in Europe of
The report pointed out that the PA had admitted practicing torture
when, at the beginning of October 2009, it announced that it was stopping
torture in its prisons.
But, the report said, “it turns out that torture
has not been stopped; rather, it has grown more frequent and intense. The PA’s
announcement was window-dressing and deception.”
In 2008, two detainees
died during torture in PA prisons. The following year another four died in PA
prisons. In all cases, the PA denied responsibility, claiming that the cause of
death was suicide or illness.
The six men were identified as Majd
Barghouti, Shadi Shaheen, Muhammad al- Haj, Haitham Amr, Kamal Abu Ta’eima and