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Rights group claims Palestinian Authority, Hamas guilty of torture

A Palestinian human rights group released a report this week criticizing Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas [CFR backgrounders] security forces for violations of civil rights in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In its newest annual report, the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) [advocacy website] accuses the PA of torture, onerous security screenings and arbitrary detentions, while also accusing Hamas of torture and arbitrary arrests. The report warns the organizations not to allow Palestinians' rights to be suppressed by overwhelming security apparatuses, citing recent revolts in Arab states such as Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and Libya [JURIST news archives] as the consequences of oppressive use of police power.

Accusations of human rights violations in the Palestinian territories [UNICEF backgrounder], not just by Israel but by the PA and Hamas as well, continue to be of international concern. In January, UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk alleged that Israeli authorities continued to commit illegal acts that threaten the viability of the Palestinian state [JURIST report] in the Palestinian territories, including the killing of four Palestinians by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) [official website]. Last September, a UN panel of experts [UN materials] criticized [JURIST report] investigations carried out by Israel and Hamas into the 2008-2009 conflict in the Gaza Strip [JURIST news archives], but praised the PA's report, which it said comported with international standards. In June 2010, Israel-based rights group B'Tselem [advocacy website] released an annual report [text, PDF; JURIST report] on human rights in the Palestinian territories, which noted that fatalities dropped 80 percent from 2009 to 2010 and that the quality of life had improved in the West Bank, something it attributed to a reduction in security checkpoints and detentions.

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