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Israel: UN expert calls for probe into allegations of torture and mistreatment of palestinian detainees

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Press release

Geneva – May 26, 2024


The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Alice Jill Edwards, has urged the Israeli government to investigate multiple allegations of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment against Palestinian detainees since October 7, 2023.

“Persons deprived of liberty must always be treated humanely,” Edwards emphasized. “They must be provided with all protections required under international human rights and humanitarian law, regardless of the circumstances of their detention.”

Following the attacks on October 7, 2023, thousands of Palestinians, including children, are estimated to have been detained. These detainees, from the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, are being held in facilities operated by the Israeli Prison Service and in Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) camps.

The Special Rapporteur has received reports of detainees being beaten, held in cells while blindfolded and handcuffed for prolonged periods, deprived of sleep, and threatened with physical and sexual violence. Additional allegations include detainees being insulted and subjected to humiliating treatment, such as being photographed and filmed in degrading positions. The prolonged use of zip-tie handcuffs has reportedly caused friction injuries and wounds.

“I am particularly concerned that this emerging pattern of violations, coupled with an absence of accountability and transparency, is creating a permissive environment for further abusive and humiliating treatment of Palestinians,” Edwards stated.

The expert noted that no effective measures appear to have been taken by Israeli authorities to investigate these allegations. The surge in the prison population since October 7, 2023, has exacerbated pre-existing overcrowding issues, leading to a decline in detention standards.

“Official downgrading of conditions in certain places of detention is not acceptable. At all times, the minimum international standards must be adhered to,” Edwards insisted. “How we treat others during moments of crisis is a sign of how much we have internalized human rights. No circumstances, however exceptional, can ever justify torture or ill-treatment.”

Edwards called on Israeli authorities to promptly, impartially, effectively, and transparently investigate all complaints and reports of torture or ill-treatment. She emphasized that those responsible at all levels, including commanders, must be held accountable, and victims have a right to reparation and compensation.

The UN expert urged the Israeli government to allow immediate access to international human rights and humanitarian observers to all detention facilities holding Palestinians since the October 7, 2023, attacks.

“I am available to support the government in reviewing detention conditions and standards of treatment, including by conducting an official visit to the country,” Edwards offered.

Previously, Edwards had condemned the attacks of October 7, 2023, and called for accountability for those responsible for these international crimes.

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