On Thursday, 16 November 2017, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) organized a panel discussion to discuss the results and recommendations of its new report on “Torture in Palestinian Prisons and Detention Facilities from October 2016 – September 2017″ in PCHR’s Head office in Gaza city. The panel discussion was attended by representatives of the security services in Gaza, Comptroller General of Security Services, representatives of human rights and civil society organizations, and elite of academics and lawyers.
Hamdi Shaqqoura, PCHR’s Deputy Director for Program Affairs, opened the session, clarifying that objective of the panel was to discuss seriously the mechanisms to combat torture within the Palestinian Authority (PA), in light of Palestine’s accession to a number of international conventions, including the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Moreover, Sahqqoura reviewed the most prominent topics covered in the report, mentioning that cases of torture and maltreatment in the Palestinian prisons and detention facilities continue to occur both in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
Ahlam al-Aqraa’, lawyer at PCHR’s Legal Aid Unit, presented the complaints filed by the Unit to the offices of the Attorney General and Comptroller General and the responses received from the two offices. In addition, she displayed some torture cases lately received at PCHR, showing persons were subject to torture and degrading treatment.
During the panel discussion, some attendees stressed the prevalence of torture crimes in the Palestinian interrogation and detention facilities as they are widely and systematically practiced, especially in the detention facilities of the General intelligence Service, Anti-Narcotics Department, and Internal Security Service. Some participants also called upon the human rights and civil society organizations and activists in this field to practice pressure on the authorities to stop the torture crimes. In addition, they called for enacting a law for torture crimes.
Representatives of the Palestinian Security Services and Comptroller General Office denied there is a systematic policy to practice torture, emphasizing that any violations committed are individual acts. They added that there are monitoring mechanisms at all levels whether by the Comptroller General’s office or various security services. The representatives also stressed that complaints filed by the human rights organizations and individuals are seriously and responsibly taken, and necessary measures are taken against those proven to be involved in any violation. However in the same time, investigations are not published.
By the end of the meeting, the participants highlighted the significance of promoting cooperation between the monitoring bodies in the security services and human rights organizations to contribute at ending torture practices in the Palestinian detention and interrogation facilities.