Ahead of the UNHRC’s fourth Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Israel, Addameer joined with thirteen other local and international civil society organizations to send a joint submission detailing Israel’s, as an Occupying Power, illegal detention policies and torture practices against the Palestinian people. The UPR, which occurs every four years, is a peer review process by which all UN Member States have the opportunity to review the human rights record and practices of all other Member States with input from civil society organizations.
Addameer’s joint submission addresses the occupying power’s systematic and illegal practices of torture and cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment of Palestinians during arrest, interrogation, and detention. Across its various prisons and detention centers, Israel continues to torture detainees illegally with practices ranging from prolonged positional torture to food and sleep deprivation to electrocution. Beatings and other forms of physical and psychological brutality are also standard practices. Additionally, occupation authorities frequently deny detainees basic amenities like food and toilets during interrogations in order to coerce confessions in exchange for baseline human necessities. As the submission details, this systematic use of torture violates international law enshrined in Convention against Torture, ratified by Israel in 1991. Despite the Israeli High Court confirming the prohibition of torture in a 1999 ruling, they held that using “moderate physical pressure” in cases of “necessity” is legal. This “necessity” loophole has been relied on ever since to justify the occupation authorities' extensive use of torture and cruel treatment in violation of international law. Under this guise, Israeli occupation authorities who perpetrate torture continue to enjoy impunity, never being truly held accountable for their crimes.
The joint submission further detailed the inhumane conditions of detention experienced by Palestinians in prisons and administrative detention. The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) consistently denies prisoners access to basic necessities, forcing them to live in overcrowded, tight prison rooms that retain humidity and lack ventilation and sunlight. Further, IPS engages in a systematic policy of deliberate medical neglect of Palestinian prisoners and detainees. Sick prisoners are left to languish without access to necessary medical care mandated by international humanitarian law. This practice has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as prisoners are not adequately protected from the virus, and those with pre-existing conditions are consistently exposed to increased health risks. Despite calls from the international community, including the UN, and domestic human rights and civil society organizations, the occupying power continues to deny their inhumane, illegal treatment of prisoners and consistent practice of medical neglect.
Addmeer’s joint UPR submission went on to discuss Israel’s consistent denial of justice and fair trial guarantees to Palestinian prisoners and detainees. In addition to their illegal, systematic transferring of Palestinians outside the West Bank, the occupation authorities violate fair trial guarantees ranging from denying access to legal counsel, withholding access to charges and evidence, and banning access to lawyers and family members. Israeli military authorities consistently issue Palestinians administrative detention orders for “security reasons” based solely on “secret evidence.” Once detained, Palestinians are not given a trial or informed of the charges against them, but instead held for six month with indefinite renewals. Despite international humanitarian law sharply limiting the legality of administrative detention, the Israeli occupation has only increased their reliance on it in recent years. From January to September of 2022 alone, the Israeli military commander issued more than 1,570 administrative detention orders to Palestinians. Under the pretext of “security reasons,” the occupation authorities rely on their illegal and discriminatory administrative detention system to collectively punish Palestinians without charge or trial. The UPR submission analyzed the use of administrative detention in violation of international legal standards and norms.
Accordingly, in the joint submission, Addameer called on UN Human Rights Council Member States to ask Israel to:
- Respect the principles of the absolute prohibition of torture in accordance with Article 2(2) of the CAT, completely remove necessity as a justification for torture, and hold those committing such acts of torture responsible and subject to criminal prosecution and appropriate penalties
- Consider the testimonies and statements made as a result of torture inadmissible as evidence in any proceedings
- Ensure and uphold Palestinian prisoners’ right to the highest attainable standard of health and mental health, as well as the right to life
- Return the bodies of the Palestinian prisoners who passed away while in prison that have not yet been returned to their relatives for proper burial
- Put an end to the widespread practice of arbitrary arrest and detention, including administrative detention, and ensure that detainees are provided all legal and procedural safeguards of a fair trial, including the right to be informed of the reason for their arrest and detention, and access to legal counsel
Addameer also endorsed joint UPR submission on other aspects of the occupying power’s violations against Palestinian people authored by Al-Haq, Al Mezan and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, the Community Action Center, the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem, and the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling.
To read the full submission attached above.