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PA responsible for torture and ill-treatment of civilians, UN report says

Jerusalem24 – The UN Committee against Torture issued last Friday its findings on Botswana, Nicaragua, the State of Palestine, and the United Arab Emirates, after reviewing the four State parties during its 74th session in July.

The findings contain positive aspects of each country’s implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as well as the Committee’s main concerns and recommendations.

The Committee said it was seriously concerned about the causalities caused by the excessive use of force in the State of Palestine, particularly the use of lethal weapons by security forces and unidentified armed elements during demonstrations on the postponement of national elections in April 2021 and about Nizar Banat’s death in custody in June 2021. It requested that the State of Palestine effectively investigate all allegations relating to the excessive use of force and ensure that all perpetrators are prosecuted and victims are fully compensated. It also recommended that the State party guarantee that all officers can be effectively identified at all times to ensure individual accountability.

“Regarding consistent reports that people in custody in facilities run by security forces and intelligence services in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are tortured or ill-treated, particularly during the investigation stage of proceedings, the Committee urged the State party to conduct prompt and effective investigations into complaints involving public officials. It also asked the State party to prosecute torturers and punish them with appropriate penalties.”

In its document under the title “Concluding observations on the initial report of the State of Palestine” the Committee recognized that the ongoing Israeli occupation of the territory of the State party, the expansion of settlements, and the continued blockade of the Gaza Strip, which are illegal under international law, pose severe challenges for the State party in fully implementing its obligations under the Convention and lead to grave violations of the rights of Palestinians.

The Committee recalled the obligations of Israel, as the occupying Power, under international humanitarian law and international human rights law. It recognizes that the above-mentioned challenges limit the State party’s effective control of its jurisdiction over its own territory and its capacities to effectively prevent and combat torture and ill-treatment.

However, it reminds the State party that the Convention is applicable in its entire territory and that the State party should take all possible measures to implement it in all parts of the territory.

The Committee found that the State of Palestine is in breach in all of the following: Legal status of the Convention, Harmonization of legislation and compliance with the Convention, Definition and criminalization of torture, State of emergency, National Human Rights Commission, Fundamental legal safeguards, Arbitrary detention, Administrative detention, Unofficial places of detention, Allegations of widespread torture or ill-treatment and the lack of accountability, Confessions obtained through torture and ill-treatment, Excessive use of force against demonstrators, Human rights defenders, journalists and political opponents, Conditions of detention, Pretrial detention, Monitoring of detention facilities, Deaths in custody, Mental health institutions, Juvenile justice, Death penalty, Gender-based violence, Redress, including compensation and rehabilitation.

The committee mentioned the following under “follow-up procedure”:

  • The Committee requested the State party provide, within a year, information on follow-up to the Committee’s recommendations on the definition and criminalization of torture, the National Human Rights Commission, and the monitoring of detention facilities.
  • The Committee encourages the State party to consider making the declarations under articles 21 and 22 of the Convention.
  • The State party is requested to widely disseminate the report submitted to the Committee and the present concluding observations, in appropriate languages, through official websites, the media, and non-governmental organizations and to inform the Committee about its dissemination activities.
  • The Committee also invites the State party to submit a core document in accordance with the requirements for the common core document contained in the harmonized guidelines on reporting under the international human rights treaties, including guidelines on a common core document and treaty-specific documents.
  • The Committee requests the State party to submit its next periodic report, which will be its second, by 29 July 2026. To that end, the Committee invites the State party to accept, by 29 July 2024, the simplified reporting procedure consisting of the Committee’s transmittal to the State party of a list of issues prior to the submission of the report. The State party’s replies to that list of issues would then constitute its second periodic report under article 19 of the Convention.

This is the first-ever review of the Palestinian Authority, which signed on to the convention in 2014.

The Committee against Torture reviewed reports submitted by the Palestinian Coalition Against Torture, Advocates for Human Rights, the World Coalition against the Death Penalty, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, SHAMS, Defense for Children International – Palestine, PNGO, Juvenile Justice Advocates International, Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights, The Clinic on International Human Rights – Hebrew University of Jerusalem, UN watch, Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling, Y.M.C.A & Equality Now.

Nadeen Alshaer

Alshaer is a Palestinian journalist, a Birzeit University graduate with a B.A. in TV and Radio Broadcasting Journalism. Alshaer has 5+ years of experience in journalism. She currently works as a reporter, editor and presenter/producer for PBC-Palestine TV and Jerusalem24 radio. She’s a UN and Kelley School of Business alumna.

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