Palestinian authorities are systematically mistreating and torturing Palestinians in detention, including critics and opponents, Human Rights Watch said today in a parallel report submitted jointly to the United Nations Committee Against Torture with the Palestinian rights group Lawyers for Justice.
More than a year after the PA beat to death prominent activist and critic Nizar Banat while he was in custody and violently dispersed people demanding justice for his death, including rounding up scores for peaceful protesting, no one has been held to account. Prosecutors brought charges against 14 accused security officers, but critics say the authorities are moving too slowly and are biased, including in a June 21 decision by military prosecutors to release the accused for 12 days.
“More than a year after beating to death Nizar Banat, the Palestinian Authority continues to arrest and torture critics and opponents,” said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch. “Systematic abuse by the PA and Hamas forms a critical part of the repression of the Palestinian people.”
In the months that followed Banat’s death, PA police forces violently dispersed popular protests demanding justice and rounded up scores of people for peacefully protesting.
The death in custody of Banat and rounding up of demonstrators in the weeks that followed reflects the Palestinian authorities’ systematic practice of arbitrary arrest and torture with impunity, Human Rights Watch said. PA and Hamas security forces routinely taunt and threaten detainees, use solitary confinement and beatings, including whipping their feet, and force detainees into painful stress positions for prolonged periods, including hoisting their arms behind their backs with cables or rope, to punish and intimidate critics and opponents and elicit confessions, as Human Rights Watch and Lawyers for Justice lay out in their parallel report.