GENEVA (18 October 2019) – Israel must immediately investigate allegations that a Palestinian man, Samer Al-A'rbeed, was tortured in custody, say UN human rights experts*.
According to information received by the experts, Israeli security forces arrested Mr. Al-Aʼrbeed outside his workplace in Ramallah on 25 September 2019. He was detained on suspicion of involvement in a bomb explosion that took place near the settlement of Dolev in the occupied West Bank in August 2019. A 17-year-old Israeli girl was killed and her brother and father were injured.
"We are gravely concerned that Mr. Al-Aʼrbeed has suffered torture and ill-treatment in the course of being interrogated and we call on the State of Israel to ensure a prompt and impartial criminal investigation," the experts said.
Mr. Al-Aʼrbeed was admitted to hospital in a critical condition two days after his arrest, with several broken ribs, marks on his body and acute kidney failure. He is still in hospital and is dependent on kidney dialysis. He has also been banned from meeting his lawyer.
"We also urge Israel to revise its laws and practices and bring them into line with its international obligations prohibiting torture in absolute terms. The ban protects everyone, including suspects who are alleged to have committed serious offences."
"We are very concerned about serious gaps in Israel's laws and practices that may be in violation of an absolute prohibition of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including through allowing the use of so called 'special interrogation measures'," the experts said.
The prohibition of torture is absolute under international law and can therefore never be justified.
"We call on Israel to review its laws, policies and practices and bring them into line with its obligations under international law, particularly under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which were ratified by Israel in 1993," the experts said.
(*) The UN experts: Mr. José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez (Mexico), Chair Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Ms Agnes Callamard (France), Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Mr. Michael Lynk (Canada), Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967; Mr. Nils Melzer (Switzerland), Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.
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For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact: Mr. Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / [email protected])
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