Members of the Palestinian security forces clash with demonstrators during a protest organised by Hizb-ut Tahrir against what organisers say are political arrests by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank city of Hebron February 25, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS/MUSSA QAWASMA)
Amnesty International on Thursday called on the Palestinian Authority to investigate the alleged torture and ill-treatment of Suha Jbara, a Palestinian mother of three, who is being held in a PA prison in Jericho.
Jbara, who is a US and Panamanian citizen, was arrested by the PA security forces during a raid on her home in a village north of Ramallah on November 3.
She is suspected of involvement with Islamic charities that provide financial aid to families of Palestinians killed or imprisoned by Israel.
In a statement, Amnesty International
quoted Jbara as saying she had been beaten, slammed against a wall, and threatened with sexual violence by her Palestinian interrogators.
On December 4, Jbara met with Amnesty, telling a representative about her ordeals in prison. She also told the organization she had suffered relentless harassment from officials to end a hunger strike she began on November 22 in protest of her detention and torture.
“Suha Jbara has described her torture in harrowing detail. In her testimony she gives an account of ruthless interrogators who have shamelessly flouted Palestine’s obligations to treat prisoners humanely and violated the absolute prohibition under international law of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” said Saleh Higazi, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
“The Palestinian authorities must urgently carry out an independent and impartial investigation into these allegations. Any officials identified as responsible must be immediately suspended, prosecuted and brought to justice.”
Jbara described to Amnesty International how, upon her arrest, she had a seizure and lost consciousness and was taken to hospital. However, armed security officials later dragged her out of her hospital bed, barefoot, and transferred her to the PA prison in Jericho.
“I was in bed with tubes in my arms when I clearly remember armed men came into the room,” she said. “The armed men took off the tubes and dragged me out. I was feeling very weak and could barely move or talk. They put me in a minivan and I slept on the floor. I woke up in another place and they said to me, ‘Welcome to the Jericho slaughterhouse.’”
She told Amnesty International that a male interrogator threw water in her face when she asked for a drink, slapped her, punched her in the chest and in the back, and threatened her with further violence. She was blindfolded and handcuffed throughout her interrogation and was not allowed to drink water or use the toilet, Jbara said.
“He insulted me all the time, used very dirty and violent sexual language, threatened to bring a doctor to look into my virginity and say that I was a whore, and threatened to hurt my family and to take my kids away from me,” she said.
She was denied access to a lawyer during interrogation, and was not allowed to read her testimony before signing it, Amnesty International said. It called on international donors to review their assistance to PA security forces to ensure that they are not facilitating human rights violations.
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