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“Ticking Bombs”

Testimonies of Torture Victims in Israel

A New Report by
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI)

The report will be presented to the press on Wednesday, 30 May 2007, at 10:00 AM at the office of The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), 31 Blumenfeld Street, Kiryat Yovel, Jerusalem. Copies of the report (in PDF or Word files) will be sent to journalists upon request.

This report, issued by PCATI, describes the routine of torture in Israel from the point of view of its victims. Nine detailed case studies narrating the victims’ experiences from the moment of arrest, through interrogation and trial and through the routine refusal of the Ministry of Justice to investigate their complaints will provide us with a glimpse into the world of torture in Israel.

The detailed testimonies of these torture victims reveals the extent to which the practice of torture is widespread and not limited to General Security Service (GSS) interrogators. Practitioners and facilitators of torture include soldiers and their commanders, prison wardens and police officers, physicians and medical staff in hospitals, military attorneys and judges, the heads of the Ministry of Justice – the Attorney General, the State Attorney and the attorney responsible for the GSS Official in Charge of investigation Interrogees’ complaints in the (the MAVTAN) and members of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, all of whom, in practice or through lack of action, through knowledge or through their silence, are accomplices to the torture described in the report. The report, in addition, reveals the bureaucratic, almost banal, environment in which torture is carried out in Israel.

The report challenges and refutes the “ticking bomb” scenario that forms the basis for the legal “the necessity defence,” which facilitates the use of torture following the High Court of Justice ruing of 1999. The testimonies that make up the core of this report, which are among the harshest cases to reach PCATI in the years 2004-2006, contradict the “ticking bomb” scenario. These testimonies illustrate the fact that any Palestinian detainee might find himself tortured during interrogation under the pretext that he is a “ticking bomb” and that today in Israel there is no effective legal control –and certainly not moral control – against of the use of torture.

The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel underscores that the use of torture is absolutely prohibited under International Humanitarian Law (The Fourth Geneva Convention ratified by Israel in 1951) and under international human rights law (The UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment that were ratified by Israel in 1991).

The automatic immunity that the Israeli prosecution and judicial authorities grant torturers and their collaborators will not protect them. Each of the 142 member states who ratified the UN Convention against Torture or the 193 member states of the Geneva Convention (all the nations in the world) are obliged to bring to justice or extradite for the purpose of legal action, any person in their territory who is suspected of involvement in torture. The decision of the House of Lords in Britain on the matter of Chile’s former dictator, Augusto Pinochet, and the legal process initiated in Germany (that was subsequently dismissed) against form US Secretary of State, Donald Rumsfeld, prove that this is more than a theoretical option.

In its recommendations, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, continues to call on the State of Israel to absolutely prohibit the use of torture, without exception and without “special permits”, and to pass legislation specifically outlawing and criminalizing torture. To do otherwise will cast doubt on Israel’s claims of upholding the most basic moral and democratic principles expected of members of civilized society.

For additional details please call:

Eyal Hareuveni, PCATI Spokesperson

Tel: 972-2-6429825, 972-54-4660248

Fax: 972-26432847

E-mail: eyal@stoptorture.org.il