NGO report to UN experts says still no prosecution of torturers in Israel
OMCT, May 2 2016
Israel continues to use torture and not to prosecute offenders in the name of “necessity defence”, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) and World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) denounced in a report published ahead of the UN review of the State’s application of the Convention Against Torture. On May 3-4 2016, the UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT), a body of human rights experts monitoring the implementation of the Convention by States parties, will examine how Israel has complied with the Convention in the last seven years. In their joint report, PCATI and OMCT say Israel has not implemented the UNCAT experts’ last recommendations as IOF continue to use torture. While 1,000 complaints for beatings, sleep deprivation, holding in stress positions and sexual abuse during IOF interrogations have been submitted since 2001, not a single criminal investigation has taken place. In 2009, the UNCAT had already recommended Israel does not use the “necessity defence” argument as a justification for the use of force as a last resort in order to prevent real injury to human life, in particular in so-called “ticking time bomb” situations where “life-saving information” supposedly can only be obtained by force. OMCT Sec-Gen Gerald Staberock said:
The “ticking time bomb” is a fake scenario. There is no place for a “necessity defence” under international law.
In the last two years alone, Israel-based PCATI received 68 allegations regarding the use of different stress positions, including the “banana” position, which causes pain and neuro-skeletal damage. Victims held in this position, which exposes the genitals, are also at high risk for sexual abuse. (yeah, I can kinda see that from here, so to speak – RB).
Culture of impunity for torturers
The country’s IOF Law 5762 of the vulgar year 2002 exempts ISA employees from “criminal or civil responsibility for any act or omission performed in good faith and reasonably (…) within the scope and in performance of” their duty, de facto nullifying any prosecution of IOF interrogators accused of torture. Despite Israel’s ratification of the Convention in 1991, this culture of impunity extends to soldiers who resort to ill-treatment throughout the country and the OPT, as well as the
police (MAGAV or “Border Police”), whose use of violence is especially targeted against Plastelinans, Ethiopians and asylum-seekers (Arab and African non-whites). Yet this violence rarely results in any investigation or prosecution of the perpetrators or any reparation for the victims. The UNCAT meets in Geneva three times a year and examines States’ implementation of and compliance with the Convention on the basis of reports received from the State party as well as from other, independent sources including reports from NGOs such as PCATI and OMCT. The 57th session proceedings will be publicly webcast at treatybodywebcast.org (10:00 CET on 3 May and 15:00 CET on 4 May). OMCT coordinates civil society presence during the sessions of UNCAT by:
- communicating ahead of time with national NGOs warning them that their countries will be reviewed in an upcoming session;
- building the reporting capacity of NGOs on the Convention Against Torture through legal trainings in their home countries;
- providing administrative, logistical and financial support to NGOs to enable their programmed attendance of CAT sessions and private briefings;
- providing technical, information-gathering and editorial support to effective country reporting;
- moderating the NGO private briefing sessions reserved for NGOs to jointly bring their concerns to the Committee;
- recommending visibility opportunities for advocacy messaging during CAT sessions.
OMCT contact: Carin Benninger-Budel, + 41 (0)22 809 49 39, Programme Director of the Global CAT Civil Society Programme