Hautala Urges Palestinian Authority to Combat Torture in Detention

Chairwoman Hautala sent on 16 March a letter to the Minister of Detanee Affairs of the Palestinian Authority, Mr Qaraqe, a letter expressing concern over reports of torture in the prisons operated by the Palestinian Authority. [:] 
H.E. Mr Issa Qaraqe
Minister of detainees and ex-detainees affairs
Palestinian Authority
Your Excellency,
Minister Qaraqe,

I am writing on behalf of the Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament to express our concern about allegations that torture is practiced extensively in Palestinian Authority detention centres.

We have received accounts from several sources, indicating that torture is widely used as a primary means of interrogation. They refer to the use of various techniques by security forces such as severe beatings, threats of rape, and other abuses. It is also alleged that detainees in Palestinian Authority prisons continue to face ill-treatment for example by being denied medical care despite of a clear deterioration health.

According to the information we have received, at least six people have been killed while undergoing torture in the Palestinian Authority centres from 2007 to 2010: Shadi Shaheen, Ramallah; Majd Barghouti, Ramallah; Mohammed al-Haj, Jenin; Kamal Abu Taima, Hebron; Haitham Amro, Hebron; Fadi Hamadna, Nablus. Other many ex-detainees have permanent disabilities as a consequence of these practices.

I am aware that the Independent Commission for Human Rights has received during 2010 over 200 complaints of torture by the General Intelligence Service and other security services. At the same time, we have been informed that to date no security official has been convicted for abusing persons in custody.

As the European Union is the world’s largest donor to the Palestinian Authority and the EU has provided direct funding to the Palestinian Authority’s security programme, I do not hesitate to express my grave concern in view of these allegations. It goes without saying that the EU has an absolute stance on the prohibition of torture, based on the understanding that torture and ill-treatment are among the most abhorrent violations of human rights and human dignity. Therefore, it cannot be tolerated, let alone financially supported.

For this reason I would like to ask you to provide information on the allegations mentioned above by presenting to us current Palestinian Authority policies and projects to prevent torture. It would be important to know if the Palestinian Authority actually has a clear anti-torture policy, if the criminal code in force in the Palestinian authority clearly makes torture illegal and how this is enforced. It would be valuable for us to have detailed data of these initiatives, in addition to the measures your government is undertaking for addressing violations and prosecuting the responsible officials.

Yours sincerely,
Heidi Hautala