Sunday, April 13, 2008

Israel Uses Families to Pressure Palestinian Detainees


"13/04/2008 Israeli security services use family members of Palestinian detainees to apply "illegal psychological pressure" and force detainees to confess, a new report on torture released on Sunday said.

The 83-page report by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel revealed the use of interrogation methods condemned as torture or ill treatment under international law, which "cause severe psychological suffering to interrogees and to their innocent relatives," it said in a statement.

It cited six detailed cases and said agents of Israel's internal security service Shin Beth often told detainees that loved ones were also in detention and being tortured. In one case, such pressure led the detainee to attempt suicide several times, the report said.

"Shin Beth made use sometimes of scenarios leading spouses, wives or mothers (of detainees) to believe that they were under arrest and were going to be tortured and that no one would take care of their children," Yoav Loeff, a spokesman for the committee, said. "It is at the very least curious that an organization charged with fighting against terrorism uses terrorist methods," he added.

In one case a couple held for a long time were subjected to severe physical torture and denied any knowledge about their two daughters, aged six months and two and a half years, who were used as bargaining chips, the committee said. The report will be presented later on Sunday to the constitution, law and justice committee of the Knesset, Israel's parliament.

"What we're asking for is stricter control of Shin Beth and clearer regulations on what is permitted and what is banned," said Loeff. "Currently it is Shin Beth which is responsible for examining complaints against the service, which is not right."

A representative of Shin Beth, which reports to the office of the prime minister, defended the service to local media. He said "the methods used in the fight against terrorism" have been approved by the country's highest legal authorities, and added that Shin Beth's work "has saved the lives of many Israelis.""

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