GENEVA (27 February 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur for human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk, today called for an international investigation on the death of Palestinian prisoner Arafat Jaradat while undergoing interrogation in an Israeli facility.
“The death of a prisoner during interrogation is always a cause for concern, but in this case, when Israel has shown a pattern and practice of prisoner abuse, the need for outside, credible investigation is more urgent than ever,” Mr. Falk stressed. “The best approach might be the creation of an international forensic team under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council.”
The human rights expert pointed to the assessment made by Palestinian Authority’s chief pathologist, Dr. Saber Aloul, who observed the autopsy carried out inside Israel, and found there were clear signs of torture on the body of the previously healthy, 30-year-old Jaradat. Israeli officials initially claimed Jaradat died of a heart attack, but the preliminary autopsy findings did not include a cause of death.
“In light of Dr. Aloul's findings that there was no evidence of heart disease or damage, and that there were signs of torture on Jaradat’s body, an independent international investigation should be launched,” the Special Rapporteur said.
According to the Israeli human rights organization B’tselem, more than 700 Palestinian detainees have filed complaints against agents of the Israeli security agency Shin Bet for mistreatment during interrogation throughout the last decade; however, not one has resulted in a criminal investigation being opened.
Related Israeli violations include the routine transfer of prisoners, including children, for interrogation and detention to prisons outside of the Occupied Territory into Israel, in violation of the Geneva Convention; the holding of administrative detainees without charge or trial (currently about 159 of the almost 4,600 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody); and holding prisoners in isolation for extended periods of interrogation without access to lawyers or family. B’tselem has reported that while incidents of physical abuse have decreased in recent years, they have not ended.
Arafat Jaradat, from the small village of Sa’ir near Hebron, was a gas station attendant. He leaves behind a four-year-old daughter and two-year-old son; his wife Dalal is pregnant with their third child.
“As an occupying power, Israel has special responsibilities under international humanitarian law to deal humanely with Palestinians held in detention, and the international community has similar responsibilities to ensure that these are carried out,” the Special Rapporteur underscored.
In 2008, the UN Human Rights Council designated Richard Falk (United States of America) as the fifth Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the UN Commission on Human Rights. Learn more, log on to: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/countries/ps/mandate/index.htm
OHCHR Country Page – Occupied Palestinian Territories: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/MENARegion/Pages/PSIndex.aspx
OHCHR Country Page – Israel: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/ILIndex.aspx
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