At the end of last week, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court, accusing him of committing war crimes related to the torture of prisoners and detainees in the prisons of the Shin Bet security service. and interrogation. centers.
The Committee called on the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into senior officials in the Israeli army and the Shin Bet, for their responsibility for carrying out torture, which is a war crime.
To date, the Israeli authorities have not punished or criminalized any of the Shin Bet interrogators, despite the numerous complaints lodged by the committee and other parties. Since its inception, the committee has received more than 1,300 complaints about torture and cruel and humiliating filed. treatment of Palestinian prisoners by Shin Bet interrogators None of them are up for trial, indicating a systematic orientation and institutional support by the state to practice torture.
Israeli law excludes the Shin Bet investigations from the need to document it through video and audio, thus enabling investigators to resort to torture unsupervised. Consequently, offenses and torture in interrogation rooms are not documented, and interrogators systematically deny that they resort to torture, even in cases where prisoners have arrived at hospitals and have been subjected to extensive treatment as a result of their torture, as in the case of the prisoner . Samer Arbid.
It is noteworthy that Israel, despite signing the Convention against Torture, refrains from enacting a clear and direct law criminalizing torture.
To highlight the topic, performed “Arab 48” The following interview is with attorney Janan Abdo, an activist in
Public Committee against Torture in Israel.
Arabs 48: Did the complaint include the names of government officials or the Israeli security services, who are accused of practicing types or methods of torture against Palestinian prisoners and detainees?
Abdo: We at the Committee Against Torture, in partnership with the International Federation for Human Rights, a global human rights organization, founded in 1992 and consisting of 192 organizations from 117 countries, went to the International Criminal Court with a claim that the court the issue of torture on the topics investigated since 2021. We have provided them with a comprehensive and comprehensive judicial file that includes information on the use of torture in Israel, which we believe constitutes war crimes, based on what we have gained from experience and information over the 30 years since the commission was established in 1990. The file included information on specific matters that had accompanied the commission over the years. In addition to a legal analysis of the transgressions and crimes we believe Israel has committed in this regard.
The file we submitted includes the names of senior officials responsible for pursuing policies that lead to torture. Of course, the court’s task is to investigate high-ranking officials in countries where war crimes complaints are filed for their responsibility for the policy of implementing and approving the crimes, or because they failed to prevent crimes and not the perpetrators who carried them out. have, to prosecute. misdade.
On the other hand, the file deals with 17 cases in which Palestinian prisoners were subjected to torture in the Shin Bet interrogation centers, and describes the methods and physical and psychological attacks, and their effects on the victims.
“Arab 48”: How is the working mechanism in the International Criminal Court after the complaint is received? Are you summoning Israeli officials for investigation?
Abdo: All possibilities exist. The court may refuse to add or accept this topic to the issues it has investigated, but it may not initiate the immediate investigation and may delay the investigation. And she can agree to take up the subject and add it to her upcoming agenda.
If the court decides to open an investigation into torture cases, it will have to gather evidence by summoning the victims (prisoners and detainees) to make their statements, and here we are ready to accompany them and provide the necessary support, guidance and legal aid to them. In return, the court will have to hold those responsible for these policies accountable, and can issue arrest warrants, travel bans, and so on.
Arabs 48: What happens if Israel does not cooperate with this court, and what powers are granted to it?
Abdo: Israel refuses to cooperate with the court, and although it has signed the Rome Convention, which is the legal reference for the International Criminal Court, Israel has not approved it, nor has it changed its content into binding internal laws and therefore Israel did not give this court the authority to investigate crimes committed within the limits of its sovereignty. But in return, Palestine signed the Rome Convention in 2015 and thus agreed that the court will investigate crimes committed in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, since 13/6/2014.
It is noteworthy that the crimes of torture against Palestinian prisoners began from the moment of their arrest in the occupied territories in 1967, and they were transferred within the borders of Israel in violation of international law, and in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and they are being investigated at Israel’s headquarters, and from here it’s possible to open an investigation against them. On this basis, prosecution of the officials, asking them to appear before it, and issuance of arrest warrants and a travel ban, as I mentioned earlier. .
Arabs 48: 1,300 complaints have been filed by you in the past against the Israeli security services and the Shin Bet, how did it end? Have you been treated objectively?
Abdo: 1,300 complaints and more have been lodged with the Attorney General since 2001, and no charges have been filed against any of the Shin Bet interrogators and those responsible. Complaints were dismissed and closed at the very early stage. In the two cases in which an investigation was opened, one of them is the case of Samer Arbid, who emerged unconscious and with obvious signs and traces of violence and torture and several fractures in his body from the interrogation room; The file was closed, and none of them was brought to justice, and the reason was “lack of sufficient evidence.” If not all of this evidence is sufficient, what is sufficient evidence? The appeals lodged were rejected on the same pretext, and even the cases reached by the Supreme Court, as in the files of the two prisoners, Asaad Abu Ghosh and Firas Tabish, who were subjected to severe torture and the so-called “military investigation”, did not allow the court to do justice to them, and failed to achieve the justice sought from them, and did not consider what they were subjected to torture, thus giving protection to the Shin Bet interrogators and their practices , as if they allow and legitimize the systematic and ongoing violation of human rights and international law in a certain sense.
It should be noted here that Israeli law excludes the Shin Bet interrogations from the need to record it in audio and video, leaving room for the investigators to deny the allegation of torture, and the investigating body accepts their statements, deny the prisoners’ statements, and help impunity.
The complaints we file are handled in the sense that they are investigated by the legal process, but one of the main problems is the protection that the law gives to the Shin Bet interrogators, as in many cases the person in charge of the investigation unit denies the use of torture methods, and they sometimes admit that the interrogation lasted more than 30 hours. They continue, and that the detainees are prevented from sleeping and so on, but they absolve the Shin Bet interrogators of responsibility. Victims have no judicial path within Israel, and through its legal system.
Arabs 48: Is there an international law that obliges the security services to document interrogation processes with political and security prisoners and detainees?
Abdo: There are special agreements related to the protection of people under occupation, such as the Third Geneva Convention, and also related to the rights of political prisoners and how to treat them, including the Treaty of Rome and the Fourth Geneva Convention . For example, Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention provides that the occupied land is prohibited from detaining or transferring prisoners from occupied territories outside their lands, which systematically violates Israel by kidnapping prisoners from their Palestinian homes and villages and occupying them within its territory. border interrogation in Interrogation Centers.Known as al-Maskobiyya in Jerusalem, al-Jalama, Ashkelon and Petah Tikva, and then also arrested them within its borders.
Usually, when the state signs an international convention and treaty, it ratifies it and sets internal laws in accordance with it, but Israel refrained from ratifying the Treaty of Rome, and despite signing the Convention against Torture as well. , it did not pass any law. torture prohibited.
Based on the Convention against Torture, the prohibition of torture is absolute and there is no exception to it, not under any circumstances. and audiovisual depiction from Shin Bet investigations.
Arabs 48: What documented investigations or investigative methods do you have that amount to war crimes? Is there an internationally recognized limit of violence or pressure to be used against prisoners and detainees?
Abdo: Three types of crimes that we mention in our approach to the International Tribunal are committed by Israel:
– Crimes of torture or cruel and inhuman treatment of a similar nature (violation of section 8 (2) _a) _2), 8 (2) (a) (3), 8 (2) (b) (21) of the Treaty of Rome.
Eviction or illegal transfer of residents of occupied territories. Violation under sections 8 (2) (a) (7), 8 (2) (b) (8) of the Rome Act.
Prohibition of a fair trial, in violation of Article 8 (2) (a) (6) of the Rome Statute.
All these crimes we mention are war crimes as they are committed in and within a state of occupation.
In its well-known ruling since 1999, the Supreme Court has banned torture and banned certain forms of investigation and known torture methods such as “banana” and “frog” which amount to torture. However, the testimonies we receive from the complaining prisoners and detainees confirm that the “military investigations” and threats to carry them out continue, which sleep and prevent the continuous interrogation for long hours, are tied to a chair in difficult and painful positions , beatings, screaming, stretching of the body parts, isolation and placement of the detainee in cells under harsh conditions such as cooling and constant lighting that prevents sleep, threatens to arrest family members, sexually threatens, prevents the detainee from using toilets, etc. ; All of these practices amount to torture, and they continue to do so despite all the complaints we and other agencies have filed.
International law – the Convention against Torture, categorically prohibits torture or even other ill, degrading and inhuman treatment. Mandela’s principles on the treatment of prisoners and detainees emphasize how detainees should be treated, and at the top of these demands is respect for the detainee’s right to dignity and non-violation of his humanity. Indeed, even the Israeli Constitution on Human Dignity and Freedom speaks to the preservation of human rights and dignity. Unfortunately, when it comes to political prisoners and inmates, the treatment changes.