UN expert voices concern of Israeli Supreme Court’s torture ruling

UN expert voices concern of Israeli Supreme Court’s torture ruling

Nils Melzer [official profile], the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, voiced his concerns [press release] regarding the Israeli Supreme Court’s [official website] December 2017 denial of a petition [opinion, in Hebrew] challenging a lower court’s ruling exempting national security agents from criminal investigation despite their uncontroverted use of torture techniques on a Palestinian detainee.

The Israeli Supreme Court denied the petition after a finding that Assad Abu Ghosh, a Palestinian citizen in his 40s, failed to prove that the lower court’s decision to close a criminal investigation into his claims of torture was unreasonable. Abu Ghosh was arrested in 2007 on suspicion of being an explosives expert working for Hamas in the West Bank. Abu Ghosh’s application was supported by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel [official website]. The court concluded that there were no grounds for the Supreme Court to intervene and there was no basis for a criminal investigation into Abu Ghosh’s interrogators despite acknowledging the use of “pressure techniques.”

Melzer argues that the approval of these “pressure techniques” was not acceptable, stating:

Any interrogation technique that intentionally inflicts pain or suffering of sufficient intensity to make the victim confess or cooperate amounts to torture, and this certainly is the case for the methods used during Mr. Abu Gosh’s interrogation.

Melzer further added that:

The absolute prohibition of torture and ill-treatment is one of the most fundamental achievements in human history, and its violation is listed among the most serious international crimes, including crimes against humanity and war crimes. No circumstances, however exceptional and well argued, can ever justify torture.

The use of torture has been universally outlawed by the UN Convention against Torture [text]. Israel became a signatory to the Convention in 1986 and ratified it in 1991.

Melzer is now asking Israeli authorities to engage in “direct and constructive dialogue” with him in order to work towards a complete ban on torture in the country.