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Israel Needs to Improve its Position on Torture

UN Committee against Torture issues statement urging Israel to put an end to abuses by law enforcement officials.

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All forms of torture are against the law in Israel

On Friday the United Nations Committee against Torture came out with a report citing "numerous allegations" that Israeli police and security officials torture or mistreat Palestinian detainees. The international committee has urged the Jewish state to undertake further efforts to prevent such abuses by law enforcement officials.

A review board of ten independent experts issued a statement acknowledging Israel's security concerns in the Palestinian territories, but said that "no exceptional circumstances" justified torture.

The watchdog organization also said Israel's destruction of Palestinian homes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip "may, in certain circumstances, amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

The Committee also expressed concern over the practice of administrative detention in occupied territories and accusations of ill-treatment of Palestinian minors. The review board urged Israel to review its laws and policies to ensure that all detainees were brought promptly before a judge and provided prompt access to lawyers.

"Despite the numerous allegations of torture and ill-treatment by law enforcement officials received by the committee, very few prosecutions have been taken against alleged perpetrators," the committee said in its review of Israel, the third to this date.

Israel's delegation to the Committee maintained that its security forces did not use interrogation methods which amounted to torture.

Israel's ambassador Yaakov Levy told the committee his country was fully committed to complying with the terms of the 1987 Convention against Torture which it ratified in 1991.

"Israeli law strictly forbids all forms of torture or other ill-treatment... Israel has never claimed that the struggle against terrorism constituted an exceptional circumstance that justified the use of torture," Levy said on Friday.

Levy added that Israel was being forced to fight Palestinian-sponsored terrorism with its "hands tied behind its back."

There are 126 member states in the Committee against Torture. Each year several countries' law enforcement and detention policies are reviewed. The Committee then makes recommendations for further improvements and requests regular periodic reviews.

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