Joint Open Letter to EU Authorities - RE: LAW TRAIN project aimed at harmonizing and sharing interrogation techniques between Israel, Belgium and Spain

Carlos Moedas,Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation,

FedericaMogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs andSecurity Policy and Vice- President of the European Commission

RobertJan-Smith - Director General for Research and Innovation

Brussels, 24November 2016

Dear MrMoedas,

DearMrs Mogherini,

Dear Mr Jan-Smith,

AsBelgian, Spanish, Palestinian and international civil society organizations, wewould like to express our concerns to you regarding the Horizon 2020 fundedproject LAW TRAIN.

Startedin May 2015, the LAW TRAIN project is aimed at harmonizing and sharinginterrogation techniques between the different countries involved, in order toface new challenges in transnational criminality. The project is coordinated bythe Israeli Bar Ilan University and includes the participation of the IsraeliMinistry of Public Security, the Federal Public Service Justice in Belgium, theMinistry of Justice of Portugal, the Civil Guard of Spain. In addition to thesepublic institutions, some private actors, including the Catholic University ofLeuven (Belgium) are involved. The project, which will run until 30th April2018, has a 5.095.687,5 € budget, half of which will be transferred to theIsraeli institutions involved in the project. At the end of August, theMinistry of Justice of Portugal announced its withdrawal from the projectbecause of its controversial nature.

As youmay know, in its fifth periodic review on Israel published in June 2016, the UNCommittee against Torture denounced Israel’s uses of torture and cruel, inhumanand degrading treatment as well as use of illegal practices duringinterrogations by the police and prison staff, in particular againstPalestinians and migrants. The participation and allocation of funds to theIsrael Ministry of Public Security through the LAW TRAIN project is thereforeproblematic as this entity is in charge of the national police and the prisonservices, both responsible for serious human rights violations.

Therefore,we would request that you provide us with the following information:

· the details of the human rights impactassessment of the project; 

· the details of the concrete humanrights safeguards put in place and measures taken to ensure 
that the projectwill not directly or indirectly generate or contribute to human rightsviolations; 

· how the project and the interrogationtechniques developed under the LAW TRAIN project integrate a human rightsdimension and how they are framed to concretely promote the respect for humanrights and improve the police records in that regard; the methodology that willbe used in the project to assess the effectiveness and impact of the trainingprogrammes on the prevention of human rights violations and, in particular, onthe prevention and eradication of torture (e.g. how the project will assess itsimpact in reducing the number of cases of torture), including gender-basedviolence, and ill-treatment.

Theprohibition of torture is a peremptory norm of international law, which createsan obligation for the EU not to facilitate violations of such norms and toactively cooperate to bring violations to an end.

Wewould also like to highlight the illegality of financing an Israeli entitywhich is headquartered in Occupied East Jerusalem, namely the Israeli police.This practice is contrary to the differentiation policy, which has been adoptedby the EU to comply with its international obligations. Indeed the violationsof peremptory norms of international law by Israel, including the denial ofPalestinians' right to self-determination and the extensive destruction andappropriation of property, raise for the EU and the rest of the internationalcommunity an obligation of non-recognition of the situation resulting from theviolations, and subsequently the duty not to engage in activities or render aidor assistance that may amount, lead to or instigate the commission ofinternationally wrongful acts.

Finally,we have doubts that the project will not be used for military purposes andwould like to receive the relevant information in that regard.

Giventhe serious human rights violations which one of the project's beneficiaries isassociated with and the EU obligation of non-recognition of Israel’s settlemententerprise, we urge the European Commission and Horizon 2020 to immediatelystop funding the LAWTRAIN project.

Inlight of the concerns expressed above, we request a meeting with you to furtherdiscuss the appropriate actions to be implemented.


Fédérationinternationale des ligues des droits de l’Homme (Int)


Al Haq(Palestine)

Asociacionpro derechos humanos (ES)

AssociationBelgo-Palestinienne (BE)

BroederlijkDelen (BE)





LaCentrale générale-FGTB (BE)

Liguedes Droits de l’Homme (BE)

Médecinepour le tiers monde (BE)

MouvementOuvrier Chrétien - MOC (BE)

OrganisationMondiale Contre la Torture (Int)

PalestinaSolidariteit (BE)

PaxChristi Vlaanderen (BE)

SolidaritéSocialiste (BE)

Vredevzw (BE)


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