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Israeli NGO refers Israel to ICC, citing “formalized system of torture”

Jerusalem24– The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) has submitted a request to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an investigation into Israel’s use of torture against Palestinians.

PCATI said in a statement, “We made the decision to go to court with a heavy heart, and only after we came to the conclusion that we are unable to bring about the necessary change through the channels we have operated in so far.”

PCATI was established in 1990 and has spent the last three decades representing victims of torture and inhuman and cruel or degrading treatment, including Israelis, Palestinians, refugees and migrants.

The request to the ICC comes after 1,300 complaints from victims of torture filed since 2001 have led to a total of two criminal investigations and zero indictments.

The 83-page report compiled by PCATI alleges that Israel “has created a formalized system of torture requiring bureaucratic preapproval from high-ranking officials. This system has subsequently been institutionalized by ISA officials in internal guidelines that have been endorsed and upheld by the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ).”

The report further details how victims of torture were “targeted by reason of their identity.”

“Such targeting was based on political, racial, national, ethnic or religious grounds, amounting to a form of discrimination and persecution, which further underlines their gravity.”

Executive Director of PCATI Tal Steiner said in a statement, “After 30 years of fighting torture, we have reached the unfortunate conclusion that Israel is uninterested and unable to stop the use of torture against Palestinians, or to honestly investigate the victims’ complaints and prosecute those responsible.”

“We have no choice but to call for the intervention of the International Criminal Court.”

PCATI, in cooperation with the International Federation for Human Rights, submitted the report to the Office of the Prosecutor as part of the ICC Prosecutor’s investigation into the Situation in the State of Palestine announced on 3 March 2021 after the ICC ruled that the court does have jurisdiction in the Palestinian territories.

Israel strongly condemned the ICC decision at the time, arguing the ICC had “no authority to make such a decision.”

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