LAW, PCATI and OMCT welcome the Conclusions and Recommendations of the UN Committee Against Torture and commend the Committee’s courage in defending the crucial right to freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. The Committee took a firm stand against attempts to erode these rights in the name of ‘the fight against terrorism’ and reiterated that ‘no exceptional circumstances may be invoked as a justification of torture.’
The three organizations had jointly submitted to the Committee comprehensive reports covering many issues relevant to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territories under the UN Convention against Torture, in particular, Israel’s treatment of Palestinian detainees including children, and Israel’s policies of closure, house demolitions and destruction of agricultural land.
At the Committee sessions in Geneva, Israel continued to argue that the Landau interrogation methods did not constitute torture or even cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, but were merely ‘unpleasant.’ LAW, PCATI and OMCT were extremely concerned by Israel’s misinterpretation of crucial provisions of the Convention and its complete disregard of the previous findings of the Committee, which has repeatedly stated that these methods amount to torture. On 6 September 1999, the Landau interrogation methods were outlawed by the Israeli High Court. In an attempt to legitimise the use of practices and policies which amount to torture and other ill-treatment, the Israeli delegation presented, among others, the following arguments:
In view of the above, LAW, PCATI and OMCT are pleased that the Committee has firmly rejected Israel’s judicial justification of acts prohibited under the Convention, expressed concern at ‘numerous allegations of torture and other ill-treatment,’ as well as at Israel’s other policies amounting to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment including administrative detentions, house demolitions and closure, and recommended legislative, administrative and practical changes to address these concerns.
At the end of a week in which five Palestinian children were inadvertently killed in consequence of Israel’s policies of what it calls ‘targeted killings,’ the three organisations note with satisfaction the Committee’s expression of concern over such policies.
While welcoming the Committee’s Conclusions and Recommendations LAW, PCATI and OMCT would nevertheless wish to underline certain issues where the Committee’s Conclusions fall short of what, the organisations believe, would have been necessary to ensure full compliance with the Convention against Torture:
LAW, PCATI and OMCT encourage other UN treaty-bodies as well as other mechanisms to follow the steps of the Committee against Torture in condemning Israel’s policies of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, and to take further steps to ensure that such policies are halted immediately.