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Press briefing note on Israel / oPt

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville  
Location: Geneva 
Date: 11 October 2019
Subject:  Israel / oPt

Israel / oPt

The UN Human Rights Office notes with concern the alleged torture of a 44-year-old Palestinian man, Samer Al A’rbeed, who was arrested by Israeli Security Forces on 25 September as a suspect in a bomb explosion that killed a 17-year old Israeli girl near Dolev settlement in the occupied West Bank. Al A’rbeed remains in the hospital in an induced coma and on artificial respiration, with critical injuries sustained after his arrest, including broken ribs and severe kidney failure.

This development is placing a spotlight on serious gaps and failings in Israel’s laws and practices in relation to its unequivocal obligation under international law to eradicate torture and cruel and inhuman treatment.

Al A’rbeed’s lawyer, who was only allowed to see his client four days after his arrest (on 29 September), alleges he was tortured. The Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet) stated to the media that Al A’rbeed did not feel well during his interrogation and had to be transferred to the hospital. The Israeli Ministry of Justice has announced an inquiry.

Given the severity of Al A’rbeed’s injuries, we call for the immediate opening of a criminal investigation into the case.

We have also received information that at least three more people arrested in the context of the same investigation have been held in incommunicado detention for a prolonged period of time. 

We are gravely concerned that Israeli law does not adequately define, prohibit or criminalize torture and the High Court of Justice has allowed the use of “special interrogation measures,” in violation of the absolute prohibition of torture.

The prohibition of torture is one of the peremptory norms of international law or “jus cogens” from which no derogation is permitted. In other words, the prohibition is binding on all states, in all circumstances, with no exception.

We call on Israel to revise its laws, policies and practices to bring them in line with its obligations under international law, in particular the Convention Against Torture, and ensure that all instances and allegations of torture and ill-treatment are investigated promptly, independently, effectively and impartially.

For more information and media requests, please contact: Rupert Colville - + 41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.orgor Marta Hurtado - + 41 22 917 9466 / mhurtado@ohchr.org

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