Rights group demands release of Palestinian tortured by Israel
A Palestinian human rights organization demands release of Samer Arabeed, 44, a tortured detainee; says confession should not hold in court
RAMALLAH, (WAFA) — A Palestinian human rights organization yesterday called on the Israeli authorities to immediately release Samer Arabeed (or Arbid), 44, since his confessions taken under torture and ill-treatment are illegal and cannot be taken as evidence in court.
“Taking those confessions means the right to a fair trial is violated and thus the detention is arbitrary,” Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association said in a statement on the situation of Arabeed, husband and father to two daughters and one son, who was rushed to hospital in Israel after suffering a serious health deterioration due to torture and ill-treatment during interrogations.
On Wednesday, 25 September, a special unit of the Israeli occupation forces arrested Arabeed. During his arrest he was harshly beaten by the Israeli forces using their guns. He was then taken to al-Mascobiyya (Russian Compound) interrogation center in West Jerusalem and was issued an order that bans him from meeting his lawyer.
The following day on 26 September, Arabeed had a court session without his lawyer. According to the session’s protocols, Arabeed stated to the judge that he suffers from severe pain in his chest and added that he cannot eat anything and throws up continually.
“We have no information of why Samer was not transferred immediately to the hospital and in fact his interrogation continued using torture and ill-treatment techniques that we are not aware of until this moment,” said Addameer in a statement, adding that the Israeli intelligence department admitted on Saturday to using extreme and exceptional techniques in interrogating Arabeed.
It said that on Saturday, Addameer’s lawyer was informed by a phone call from one of the interrogators at al-Mascobiyya that Arabeed was transferred to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. The lawyer was also informed that Arabeed was in critical condition and that was unconscious and on artificial respiration. Arabeed, said the organization, was in fact transferred to the hospital on Friday morning, 27 September, though his family and lawyer were not informed of this fact.
Addameer’s lawyer, and after being allowed to see Arabeed in hospital for a short period of time, said he was unconscious and had several broken ribs and marks all over his body. He also was suffering from a severe kidney failure.
“The prohibition against torture in international conventions and agreements was unequivocal in its interpretation. The Geneva Conventions of 1949, as well as Protocol I and II of 1977, include a number of articles that strictly prohibit cruel treatment and outrages upon human dignity. In addition, torture is prohibited under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which was adopted in 1948 and entered into force in 1978. The Convention against Torture states that no ‘exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war’ may be invoked as a justification of torture, thus establishing an internationally-recognized peremptory norm against torture even in compelling circumstances relating to counter terrorism. Furthermore, according to the Rome Statute, Articles 8, 7, torture amounts to a war crime and when systematic and wide-spread to a crime against humanity. Also, Article 55 of the Rome Statues prohibits in specific torture and ill-treatment of prisoners during investigation,” said Addameer.
Arabeed was first arrested on 26 August. A few days later, on 29 August, he had a court session at Ofer military court near Ramallah in order to examine the possibility to issue him an administrative detention order. During this session the judge issued a conditional release order for Arabeed, which included a 10,000 Israeli shekels (app. $3000) bail.
However, the military prosecution requested to delay the implementation of the release order for 72 hours in order to appeal it. But instead of appealing the release order, the military prosecution issued a three-month administrative detention order against Arabeed on 2 September. Later, on 9 September, Arabeed had a confirmation of detention hearing where the judge again issued him a release order and the military prosecution again requested a delay for 72 hours.
Nevertheless, a day after, on 10 September, Arabeed was released based on the military prosecution’s order to release him without any conditions.
Israeli intelligence issued a statement claiming that Arabeed and three others from the Ramallah area were allegedly involved in an attack on Ein Boben on 23 August that left one Israeli settler dead and two others wounded. According to the court protocols, all of the other detainees stated to the judge that they suffered from grave physical torture and also psychological torture mainly through arresting their family members continuously.
Addameer’s lawyer was not allowed to visit any of the other detainees as they were issued an order than bans them from meeting their lawyer from the first day of their arrest.
Addameer called in its statement on the Israeli authorities to immediately release Arabeed since confessions taken under torture and ill-treatment are illegal and cannot be taken as evidence in court.
It also called for the Israeli authorities to instantly investigate the conditions and environment of the torture Arabeed suffered from and to hold those responsible accountable for their crimes.
Addameer called of the International Committee of the Red Cross to from a medical committee with the purpose of investigating the crime of torture and ill-treatment, and on the UN Secretary General and the rest of the United Nations committees and agencies to take all the required and available procedures and steps to end the Israeli practice of torture and ill-treatment in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to act immediately in actual attempts to hold the Israeli occupation authorities accountable to their crimes.
“The lack of internal investigations for such grave human rights violations confirms the importance of third states to act upon their responsibilities as described by Articles 146 and 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention to hold perpetrators of torture accountable,” said Addameer.