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NGO report to UN experts says still no prosecution of torturers in Israel; blames « necessity defence » provision

NGO report to UN experts says still noprosecution of torturers in Israel; blames « necessity defence »

2 May 2016 – Israel continues to use torture and not to prosecuteoffenders in the name of “necessity defence”, the Public Committee AgainstTorture in Israel (PCATI) and World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)denounced in a report published ahead of the United Nations’ review of the State’sapplication of the Convention Against Torture.

The UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT), a body of human rights experts monitoring theimplementation of the Convention by States parties, will on 3-4 May 2016 examine how Israel has complied with theConvention in the last seven years. In their joint report, PCATI and OMCT say Israel has not implemented the UNCAT experts’ last recommendationsas Israelisecurity forces continue to use torture. While 1,000 complaints for beatings, sleep deprivation, holding in stresspositions and sexual abuse during ISA interrogations have been submitted since 2001, not a singlecriminal investigation has taken place.

In 2009, the UNCAT had already recommended Israel doesnot use the “necessity defence” argument as a justification for the use of force as alast resort in order to prevent real injury to human life, in particular in so-called “ticking time bomb”situations where “life-saving information” supposedlycan only be obtained by force.

“The tickingtime bomb is a fake scenario,” said Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General.“There is no place for a “necessity defence” under international law.”

In the last two years alone, Israel-based PCATIreceived 68 allegations regarding the use of different stress positions,including the “banana” position, which causes pain and neuro-skeletaldamage. Victims held in this position, which exposes the genitals, are also athigh risk for sexual abuse.

Culture ofimpunity for torturers

The country’s ISA Law 5762-2002 exemptsISA employees from “criminal or civilresponsibility for any act or omission performed in good faith and reasonably(…) within the scope and in performance of” their duty, de facto nullifying any prosecution of ISA interrogators accused of torture.

Despite Israel’s ratification of theConvention in 1991, this culture of impunity extends tosoldiers who resort to ill-treatment throughout the country and the OccupiedPalestinian Territories as well as the police whose use of violence is especiallytargeted against Palestinians, Ethiopians and asylum seekers. Yet this violencerarely results in any investigation or prosecution of the perpetrators or anyreparation for the victims.

The UNCAT meets inGeneva three times a year and examines States’ implementation of andcompliance with the Convention on the basis of reports received from theState party as well as from other, independent sources including reportsfrom non-governmental organizations such as PCATI and OMCT.


The 57th session proceedings will bepublicly webcast at (10:00 CET on 3 May; 15:00 CET on 4 May).

OMCT coordinatescivil society presence during the sessions of UNCAT by:

● communicatingahead of time with national NGOs warning them that their countries will bereviewed in an upcoming session;

● building thereporting capacity of NGOs on the Convention Against Torture through legaltrainings in their home countries;

● providingadministrative, logistical and financial support to NGOs to enable theirprogrammed attendance of CAT sessions and private briefings;

● providingtechnical, information-gathering and editorial support to effective countryreporting;

● moderating theNGO private briefing sessions reserved for NGOs to jointly bring their concernsto the Committee;

● recommendingvisibility opportunities for advocacy messaging during CAT sessions;

For any inquiries, contact Carin Benninger-Budel, + 41(0)22 809 49 39, ProgrammeDirector of the Global CAT Civil Society Programme

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