UN expert urges Israel to probe alleged torture of detainees from Palestine News
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UN expert urges Israel to probe alleged torture of detainees from Palestine

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Alice Jill Edwards urged the Israeli government on Thursday to look into numerous allegations of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment against detained Palestinians since the beginning of the Israel-Gaza conflict on October 7, 2023.

Edwards emphasized the importance of humane treatment toward detainees and adherence to international human rights and humanitarian law, noting allegations of abuse toward Palestinian prisoners since the attacks on October 7. She added that the detainees “must be provided with all protections required under international human rights and humanitarian law, whatever the circumstances of their detention.”

Reports include allegations of beatings, prolonged blindfolding, handcuffing, sleep deprivation and threats of violence. Edwards highlighted concerns over the lack of accountability and transparency, the exacerbation of overcrowding and the lowering of detention standards. She urged Israel to investigate all torture claims. She added:

The Israeli authorities must investigate all complaints and reports of torture or ill-treatment promptly, impartially, effectively and transparently. Those responsible at all levels, including commanders, must be held accountable, while victims have a right to reparation and compensation.

Edwards also offered to assist Israel in reviewing detention conditions through an official visit.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, established by the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1985 and extended most recently in April 2023, investigates and reports on torture globally, regardless of a state’s treaty status. The mandate includes urgent appeals, fact-finding visits, and annual reporting. Edwards, the current Rapporteur, was appointed in July 2022 and is the first woman in the role. Edwards is a renowned lawyer and human rights advocate with extensive experience in international law and victim support.

Recently, International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Karim A. A. Khan applied for arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and senior Hamas leaders for crimes against humanity and war crimes during the Israel-Hamas War.

Netanyahu and Gallant face charges including starvation and cruel treatment as methods of warfare, wilful killing and directing attacks against civilians. Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif, and Ismail Haniyeh are accused of extermination, murder, taking hostages, rape, sexual violence, torture and cruel treatment in the context of captivity, with specific allegations that hostages taken on October 7 were subjected to inhumane conditions such as torture. The ICC will now review these requests.