Saturday, June 26, 2010

Addameer Stands in Solidarity with Palestinian Victims of Torture

United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture 2010

Ramallah, 24 June 2010

As the United Nations and the world commemorates the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June 2010, Addameer stands in solidarity with Palestinians prisoners who have suffered the devastating effects of torture and ill treatment, and unequivocally condemns all forms of such treatment in Israeli and Palestinian prisons, interrogation facilities and detention centers.

The right to be free from torture is a fundamental and non-derogable right, guaranteed to all human beings, regardless of detention status. As a state-party to the most essential conventions and treaties protecting this right, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and especially, the United Nations Convention Against Torture,(1) Israel is under unquestionable international legal obligation to ensure that all prisoners are free from torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.(2)
Moreover, a series of 1999 holdings by the Israeli High Court placed some restrictions on the harsh and tortuous interrogation tactics prevalent throughout the detention system, stating that physical means of interrogation that are not “reasonable and fair” and that cause the detainee to suffer are illegal.(3)
Nevertheless, despite the international and domestic legal restrictions on prison and detention authorities, Addameer continues to document an alarming number of cases of torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, from their arrest to their interrogation and throughout their detention. Since the United Nations commemorated its last Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June 2009, Addameer has documented an astonishing number of egregious violations, particularly against women, children and administrative detainees. Numerous other human rights organizations, including the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel(4) and Defense of Children International – Palestine Section,(5) have also documented an alarming number of cases of torture and ill-treatment in recent months.
Although the use of torture and ill-treatment is routine among Palestinians arrested by Israel, a few recent cases include:
  • Loai Sati Mohammad Ashqar, 33, an administrative detainee forced to suffer days on end in the stress position known as the “banana” position, in which the detainee is shackled while bent backwards over a chair. Three of Loai’s vertebrates were broken due to this torture, and due to further negligence by prison officials, his condition led to complete paralysis of his left leg. Loai must spend the rest of his life confined to a wheelchair.(6)
  • Nelli Zahi As’ad Sa’id As-Safadi, 33, a female administrative detainee, was also forced to endure painful stress positions, as well as sleep deprivation and threats of further physical and psychological abuse. Israeli interrogators routinely used Nelli’s family members as a means of psychological torture, going so far as to arrest her mother-in-law, 67, and her young nephew.(7)
  • Moatasem Raed Younis Muzher, 17, also an administrative detainee, was subjected to psychological ill-treatment with constant threats of being sent to Moskobiyyeh, an interrogation center in Jerusalem notorious for its torture of Palestinians.(8)
  • Hassan Yousef Hassan Dabak, 29, (see Hassans case) in addition to being subjected to harsh interrogation tactics for weeks on end, was deliberately thrown down the stairs by his interrogators while he was blindfolded and his hands and feet were shackled. Unable to catch himself or brace his fall, Hassan landed with the brunt of the force of the fall on his left side and cracked his pelvis.(9)
Moreover, Addameer remains extremely concerned with the recent deaths of Raed Muhammad Ahmad Hammad in Israeli detention on 16 April 2010 and Muhammad Abdul Salam Abdeen in Ramleh Prison on 10 June 2010. Full investigative reports into the cause of death have not been issued in either case. Addameer demands that Israeli authorities permit an independent body to conduct the full and necessary inquiries that their families deserve.
Additionally, Addameer condemns the increased prevalence of torture in Palestinian Authority prisons and detention centers, particularly against political prisoners, as well as the recent executions by Palestinian authorities in the Gaza Strip and urges all Palestinian authorities to denounce these devastating practices and to employ their own standards aligned with international law.
In summary, to commemorate this June 26 and to truly stand in solidarity with all Palestinian victims of torture, Addameer urges In Kofi Annan’s words, “take action to defeat torture and torturers everywhere.”(10)
Addameer therefore strongly urges the international community, particularly including the United Nations and relevant bodies and agencies, as well as all UN Member States to take note of these appalling practices and:
  • Immediately intervene with  Israeli and Palestinian authorities and pressure both to adhere to their international legal obligations.
  • Support the creation of independent monitoring and investigation of all cases of torture and ill-treatment by Israeli and Palestinian authorities; and
  • Follow individual cases of torture and ill-treatment against Palestinian prisoners and detainees and raise these cases with the relevant authorities.
Addameer further demands that the Israeli and Palestinian authorities:
  • Immediately halt all use of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment as is unequivocally required by international law;
  • Promptly and effectively investigate all allegations of torture and ill-treatment, and ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted and, if applicable, appropriate penalties are imposed; and,
  • Incorporate torture as defined in article 1 of the Convention Against Torture as a crime under both Israeli and Palestinian domestic legislation.
Finally, Addameer encourages individuals to take action in defense of all Palestinian prisoners, particularly including those subjected to torture and ill-treatment by Israeli and Palestinian authorities by:
  • Writing letters to prisoners in detention. While we request that you send the personal letters directly to the prison facilities, please copy Addameer at so that we can keep track of the letters of support. You may also contact Addameer directly to organize an educational event and/or presentation on Palestinian prisoners.
  • Contact the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to demand an immediate cessation of all prohibited methods of treatment, and accountability for all cases of torture and ill-treatment.
  • Contact your own elected officials and urge them to intervene with Israel and the Palestinian authorities on this important subject.
1 The United Nations selected 26 June as its International Day in Support of Victims of Torture to mark the day that the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment ratified by the necessary number of states and came into effect – 26 June 1987.
2 Universal Declaration of Human Rights art. 5 (1948); International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights art. 7 (1976); Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1987).
3 HCJ 5100/94 Pub. Comm. Against Torture in Isr. v. Israel [1999] IsrSC 53(4) 817.
4 See generally, website of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (available at:
5 See Defense of Children International – Palestine Section, DCI-Palestine submits 50 cases of ill-treatment to the UN Committee Against Torture, 7 June 2010 (available at:
6 Loai Sati Mohammad Ashqar profile, (last visited 23 June 2010).
7 Nelli Zahi As’as Sa’id As-Safadi profile, (last visited 23 June 2010).
8 Moatasem Raed Younis Muzher profile, (last visited 23 June 2010).
9 Hassan Yusef Hassan Dabak profile, (last visited 24 June 2010).
10 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, (last visited 23 June 2010).