Israel uses torture in defiance of court ban, report says

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The Independent Online

Israel has resumed systematic torture of Palestinian detainees even though the Israeli Supreme Court banned the practice two years ago, three human rights groups said in a joint report.

Israel has resumed systematic torture of Palestinian detainees even though the Israeli Supreme Court banned the practice two years ago, three human rights groups said in a joint report.

The document cited affidavits from detainees, including a 16-year-old who said he was soaked in freezing water, made to carry a heavy wooden beam while manacled and then beaten.

An Israeli government report on the issue said the ban on torture was still in effect and an official added that alleged violations were being investigated. The government has said that, sometimes, security forces needed to extract information quickly from suspects who might have knowledge of an impending attack.

The Israeli report and the response by the human rights groups will be submitted to a meeting of the United Nations Committee Against Torture.

The joint document by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, the Palestinian rights group Law and the Swiss-based World Organisation Against Torture contends that the September 1999 High Court ruling has been regularly flouted, particularly since the intifada began in September of last year.

The report cites nine affidavits by Arab detainees saying they were interrogated using methods expressly forbidden under the 1999 ruling or by existing Israeli or international law. The groups say they have received about 20 reports of violations since the ruling was passed.

Among these are sleep deprivation, shackling a prisoner to a chair in painful positions for prolonged periods, use of smelly hoods, the playing of deafening sounds and beating, slapping and kicking.

Rami Zaul, 16, who was interrogated in October and November 2000, described how freezing water was poured on to him. He said he was then forced, while handcuffed, to drag a wooden beam with one of his interrogators standing on it. "When I got tired and dropped it I was beaten hard," he said.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that in many instances such complaints were unjustified, exaggerated and unsupported by medical evidence and in some cases they formed part of a disinformation campaign by Palestinian groups. (AP)

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