Detainees at a Hamas facility in Gaza. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90) (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Hamas police

The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights reports that the PA and Hamas continue to violate the Palestinians’ human rights. 

By: United with Israel Staff

The Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Hamas government in Gaza continued to violate the human rights of Palestinians in 2015, including the death and murder of innocents, according to the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR).

PA security forces were also said to be using methods of torture on detainees held in their facilities in order to obtain confessions under force, the ICHR added.

ICHR, an official Palestinian body, seeks to protect and promote human rights in accordance with Palestinian Basic Law and the international principles of human rights.

ICHR Director, Dr. Ammar Dwaik, told the Palestinian Ma’an news agency in December that the organization received 1220 complaints of torture from detainees of Palestinian detention centers over the course of 2015.

According to the complaints filed, Palestinian interrogators used physical and psychological forms of torture, Dwaik said, including “lashing, cursing, blasphemy, sleep deprivation, foot whipping, and tying detainees in one position for several hours.”

ICHR received 292 complaints of ill-treatment in detention centers in the Palestinian Authority-areas and 928 similar complaints from Palestinians who were detained in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

These numbers are similar to the complaints the ICHR received in 2014, Dwaik added, and so there has been no improvement in this area, and this despite PA head Mahmoud Abbas having signed in 2014 the letter of accession to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment..

Dwaik told Ma’an that Palestinian law and the Jordanian penal code applicable in the PA consider torture during interrogation a punishable crime, adding that actions of torture and coercion are also prohibited by Article 13 in Palestinian Basic Law.

Any confessions obtained through torture, the ICHR director said, violate this article should thus be considered null and void. He did not specify what percentage of complaints filed were the result of forced confession under torture.

Some branches of the Palestinian security apparatuses, including the police, utilize their own legal bodies for investigating complaints of torture, Dwaik said. Such bodies have confirmed complaints of torture, Dwaik added, while some complaints received by ICHR have been unverifiable.

Torture is ‘Commonplace’

The ICHR report comes as Palestinian security forces have in the past come under fire from rights groups and Palestinian detainees, and the ICHR says the use of torture has been commonplace for “many years.”

PA police

A Hamas policeman shoves a protester. (AP/Khalil Hamra)

Commenting on the ICHR findings, spokesman of the PA’s security services Adnan Dmeiri told Ma’an that torture during interrogation is “prohibited under Palestinian law and those who practice it must be tried in court.”

Dmeiri referred to any cases of torture in PA detention centers as “extrajudicial individual practices” that ostensibly violate the instructions given by leaders of security services.

Dmeiri claimed that there have been cases of punishment against PA security officers in the past, including termination of service.

Despite a perceived change in attitude towards torture in Palestinian detention centers, the ICHR director told Ma’an: “There is still a long way to go until torture is completely stopped.”