Backed by the System: new report by HaMoked and B’Tselem exposes the routine abuse of Palestinian detainees held at the ISA interrogation facility at Shikma Prison
Sixteen years after the High Court of Justice (HCJ) forbade the torture of interrogees, a new report by HaMoked and B’Tselem reveals that the violent interrogation system of the Israel Security Agency (ISA) – with the backing of state authorities – still continues. While not strictly statistically representative, the corpus of evidence on which the report is based – the affidavits of 116 Palestinians who underwent interrogation at Shikma from August 2013 to March 2014 – reveals a clear and consistent pattern of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of interrogees at Shikma, in blatant violation of international law.
The harsh reality emerging from the findings includes, inter alia, the keeping of detainees bound hand and foot to a chair for hours on end; their subjection to intimidation and indignities; solitary confinement; sleep deprivation; denial of showers; exposure to extreme cold or heat; and small unpalatable food rations. Each of these measures is cruel, inhuman and degrading, much more so when they are used in conjunction for long periods of time. In some cases, these measures amount to torture.
The report clearly illustrates that this is an integrated system of abuse and torture. The holding conditions at Shikma complement the actual interrogations, with the aim of weakening the detainee mind and body. The report also reveals that the Israeli interrogation authorities are also indirectly complicit in torture, by knowingly using information obtained through the earlier torture of the same detainees by interrogators of the Palestinian Authority.
This is the third joint report by HaMoked and B’Tselem exposing the illicit interrogation methods at Israeli detention facilities. It is the second to focus on one single interrogation facility over a set period of time. The report reaffirms that ISA’s unacceptable interrogation system is not a private initiative of any particular interrogator or warden, but is the joint creation of many authorities partnering with the ISA: the IPS creates the suitable prison conditions, the IPS medical staff greenlight the abuse; military judges sign off on motions for remand in custody of interrogees who report about their being abused; and HCJ justices repeatedly reject petitions over the denial of access to legal counsel. They and others are all party to the abuse and torture of Palestinian interrogees.
HaMoked and B’Tselem once again demand that Israel immediately stop the use of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, as well as the abuse and torture of interrogees, both in overt interrogation and through the conditions in which they are held. Moreover, Israel must abide by the prohibition on torture and abuse also in its security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority.
See executive summary
See full report
See previous reports on torture: Absolute Prohibition, Kept in the Dark