10 years, Hundreds of Complaints, No Investigations

Accountability Denied
28.12.2009

A new report by The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), that will be launched this evening at a conference marking ten years since the Israeli High Court of Justice's "Torture Decision", exposes an intolerable reality. Israeli authorities systematically prevent investigations of complaints of torture against General Security Service (GSS) interrogators.  In fact, officials at the highest levels of Israel's justice system directly and indirectly thwart the opening of criminal investigations against torture suspects in direct contradiction of the obligation to investigate charges of serious crimes and of Israel's obligations under international law.

The main conclusion of this report – "Accountability Denied: The Absence of Investigation and Punishment of Torture in Israel" – is that Israel has no genuine investigation mechanism for complaints of torture.  This results in absolute criminal immunity for interrogators who commit grave crimes.  In practice the system enjoys the acquiescence and encouragement of the law enforcement system for torture that occurs in GSS interrogations. Among other things, complaints are checked by an active GSS agent who is the official in charge of checking interrogee complaints.  His recommendations not to open a criminal investigation are universally accepted by the high ranking attorney in charge in the Ministry of Justice and by the Attorney General. In practice, this means that the Attorney General and his assistants provide sweeping approval to use torture in Israel.

All of this, together with additional layers of protection for torturers - GSS exemption from the obligation to provide audio or video recording of interrogations, a dual system for keeping interrogation records, systematic denial of the detainee's right to meet an attorney and the deliberate concealment or withholding of detainee medical records - lead to the fact that each and every torture complaint in Israel is shelved with no investigation and no justice. According to data provided by the State, since 2001 more than 600 complaints of torture by GSS agents were submitted while not even a single criminal investigation was opened.

 

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Accountability_Denied_Eng.pdf669.07 KB
Letter to the new Atterney General143.01 KB