Amnesty International lambasts Hamas over Mohamed, decries torture allegations
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CALLS ON HAMAS: BRING MOHAMED’S ALLEGED TORTURERS TO JUSTICE.
HAMAS MUST ALSO ENSURE MOHAMED GETS FAIR TRIAL, SAYS JUSTICE WATCHDOG.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL HAS CLEARED THIS STATEMENT FOR PUBLICATION:
We wrote to the Attorney General of the Hamas de facto administration (Mohammed Abed) raising our concerns about Mohammed Abu Muailek’s case on 16 September 2010. In particular we raised our concerns about:
- Mohammed’s initial period of incommunicado detention;
- Mohammed’s allegations of torture and other ill-treatment;
- death threats made against Mohammed;
- the use of a statement alleged to have been obtained under torture in court; and
- the lack of investigation and accountability regarding members of the Hamas security units alleged to have both made death threats against Mohammed and to have used torture and other ill-treatment.
We reminded Hamas of:
- the absolute prohibition on torture;
- guarantees of the right to a fair trial, including the right to be defended by a lawyer of one’s own choosing and to be able to call and question witnesses; and
- provisions in the Palestinian Basic Law safeguarding detainees’ rights to have contact with a lawyer without delay and not to be subjected to duress or torture, and makes clear that all statements or confessions obtained through any duress or torture must be considered null and void.
We urged Hamas to:
- ensure that the allegations of torture and other ill-treatment made by Mohammed Abu-Muailek are investigated fully and thoroughly and without delay, that information obtained under torture or other duress is not used as evidence against him at his trial, and that any officials or others responsible for his torture face criminal prosecution; and
- take all possible steps to ensure that members of Internal Security and other security units, and members of armed groups in the Gaza Strip, are informed and understand that they must refrain from such attacks or threats and will be held fully to account if they commit unlawful actions.
We regard the allegations of torture and unfair trial as extremely serious.
The AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL 2011 REPORT stated:
PA security forces in the West Bank arbitrarily arrested and detained suspected Hamas supporters, and Hamas security forces in Gaza arbitrarily arrested and detained suspected Fatah supporters. In both areas, the authorities gave the security forces wide powers of discretion, including to arrest and detain suspects in breach of the law and to torture and otherwise ill-treat them with impunity. The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) reported receiving complaints of more than 1,400 arbitrary arrests in the West Bank and more than 300 in Gaza.
Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees by security and police forces were reported – by the PA’s Preventive Security force and the General Intelligence Service in the West Bank; and by Internal Security in Gaza. The ICHR said it had received over 150 complaints of torture or other ill-treatment by the PA in the West Bank and over 200 by Hamas in Gaza. New reports emerged of cases from 2009.
In both areas, torture and other ill-treatment were committed with impunity. In a rare prosecution, five members of the PA’s General Intelligence Service were tried during 2010 in connection with the death in custody of Haitham Amr in June 2009, but were acquitted by a military court.
- Mohammed Baraka Abdel-Aziz Abu-Moailek was reported to have been tortured by Internal Security officials in Gaza. He was held incommunicado for more than 50 days after his arrest in April 2009 on suspicion of “collaboration” with Israel. He said he was tortured with electric shocks, beaten on the soles of his feet (the falaqa method), burned with cigarettes and threatened with death to force him to confess. He remained on trial and in detention at the end of 2010.
- Ahmed Salhab, a mechanic, was reported to have been tortured following arrest in September by PA security officials, allegedly for suspected association with Hamas. He said he was tied tightly in stress positions for long periods (the shabeh method). This exacerbated a serious back injury caused by previous torture by PA security officials. He was released without charge in October.
One death in custody following an assault by police was reported in Gaza.
- Nazira Jaddou’a al-Sweirki died on 1 January shortly after she was hit on the back and otherwise assaulted by police in Gaza. Three of her adult sons were beaten and two were detained on suspicion of supporting Fatah.
In the West Bank, the security authorities failed to comply with many court orders to release detainees. The PA continued to prohibit former members of the judiciary and police from working for the Hamas de facto administration in Gaza. In Gaza, the Hamas administration continued to use alternative prosecutors and judges who lacked appropriate training, qualifications and independence.
In Gaza, military and criminal courts sentenced at least 11 people to death. Five men were executed after trials that failed to meet international fair trial standards – two in April who had been convicted of “collaboration” with Israel; and three in May who had been convicted of murder.
Both the PA in the West Bank and the Hamas de facto administration in Gaza maintained tight controls on freedom of expression, and harassed and prosecuted journalists, bloggers and other critics.