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Hamas criminal justice system violating human rights: HRW

The Hamas [CFR backgrounder] criminal justice system is rife with human rights abuses, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [text, PDF] Wednesday. The report, entitled "Abusive System: Criminal Justice in Gaza," claims that under Hamas rule, people in the Gaza Strip [BBC backgrounder] are subject to numerous rights violations including warrantless arrests and torture. The report includes a list of specific recommendations for Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, the Interior Ministry, and the Ministry of Justice that the organization hopes will resolve many of the abuses it believes are currently plaguing the region:

Hamas should ... ensure that members of security services are held criminally liable for abuses against detainees, and it should sanction prosecutors and judges who turn a blind eye to violations, such as by issuing retroactive arrest warrants or accepting evidence that was credibly alleged to have been obtained under torture. Hamas authorities should strengthen oversight and complaints mechanisms intended to keep security services in check, including by allocating more resources to investigating and prosecuting security officers allegedly responsible for abuses.
In an accompanying press release [text], HRW deputy Middle East director Joe Stork claimed, "[a]fter five years of Hamas rule in Gaza, its criminal justice system reeks of injustice, routinely violates detainees’ rights, and grants impunity to abusive security services. Hamas should stop the kinds of abuses that Egyptians, Syrians, and others in the region have risked their lives to bring to an end."

Accusations of human rights violations in the Palestinian territories [UNICEF backgrounder], not just by Hamas but by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel, continue to be of international concern. In August Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] said that Israel should investigate the alleged mistreatment [JURIST report] of two Palestinian prisoners detained in Israel. In May the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) [advocacy website] accused the PA and Hamas of committing torture [JURIST report]. 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]. In September 2010 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.

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