Torture and Degrading Treatment: Security Services’ Abuses Continue in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
Date: 24 August 2020
Time: 11:00 GMT
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) documented two incidents in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip where security services officers used torture and inhuman and degrading treatment while carrying out their law enforcement duties. PCHR affirms that torture and inhuman and degrading treatment are crimes under national and international laws, stressing that law enforcement and the rule of law cannot be achieved by violating the law.
According to PCHR’s follow-up, a Palestinian force of the Preventive Security Service (PSS) arrested a 17-year-old boy, from Ethna village in Hebron, without showing a warrant from the Public Prosecution, assaulted him physically, and shackled him subjecting him to degrading treatment. According to his statement:
“An officer grabbed me from my shirt and took me into the head office and ordered me to carry a heavy metal chair on my head while lifting one of my legs off the ground. When I refused to do so, the officer slapped me in the face and kicked me with his leg. I did what the officer ordered me for 5 minutes. After that, an officer grabbed me from my shirt again and hit me on my head repeatedly until we reached the investigation room. Officers ordered me to strip naked and face the wall and lift one hand and one foot up. I was kicked every time I tried to put my leg down. An inspector drew a fan on the wall and ordered me to turn it on while another inspector drew a ladder and ordered me to climb it. After that, another offer came and ordered me to crawl on the ground naked and officers proceeded to step on my body and head with their shoes on. I learnt later that I was arrested to pressure my father to turn himself in, as I was released after he was arrested.”
In the Gaza Strip, PCHR documented security services’ attacks on al-Serhi family. At approximately 03:30 on Friday dawn, 21 August 2020, security officers reinforced with8 military SUVs raided Jalal Kamel al-Serhi’s (57) house on Kishko Street in al-Zaytoun neighborhood, eastern Gaza City. The security officers mounted the roof and entered the house without showing a search warrant or taking the owner’s permission. Moreover, al-Serhi and his wife (56), his sons Salem (35) and Fadi, his daughters, and daughter-in-law were assaulted with batons. Salem and Fadi were detained by security officers and then taken to al-Zaytoun Police Station. Security officers raided al-Serhi family house under the pretext that they had information that on 20 August 2020, that Fadi kidnapped a 9-year-old child in front of a wedding hall in al-Zaytoun neighborhood. After conducting investigations, it was found that information received by security services was false. Therefore, the security services released Salem and Fadi an hour after their arrest and apologized to them.
These two incidents came within the ongoing use of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment by security services in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
PCHR stresses that maintaining security and the rule of law should be conducted by the literal application of law without violating it, and there is no justification for infringe on the rule of law by those responsible for its enforcement.
Moreover, PCHR emphasizes that torture and inhuman and degrading treatment are crimes not subject to statute of limitations at both the national and international levels. Also, PCHR recalls Palestine’s obligations to prohibit and combat torture and cruel and inhuman treatment, under article 7 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and political Rights and the 1984 Convention against Torture, as a party to both Conventions since 2014.
PCHR calls upon the Public Prosecution in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to open an investigation, bring those responsible to justice and activate judicial oversight over the security services’ performance, especially its compliance with the proper penal procedures, mainly obtaining the Public Prosecution’s permission before inspection or detention, and refrain from entering houses without permission.