In the morning hours on Monday 15 June 2009, 33-year-old Haytham Abadulla Amr died while in the custody of the Palestinian Intelligence Apparatus in the city of Hebron in the West Bank.
According to information Al Mezan retrieved from human rights NGOs working in the West Bank, Amr had been arrested by members of the Intelligence Apparatus on 11 June 2009; i.
four days before he die.
He was arrested from his home in the village of Beit El-Roush in the southwest of Hebron City.
Statements made by the victim's family and supported by human rights organizations in the West Bank indicate that signs of torture appeared on the victim's body.
The conditions of the death of the victim, who was detained in a cell in the ground floor of the prison and was not allowed to move inside the prison, negate the Palestinian police allegation that the victim fell from the second floor of the prison.
The police arranged for the autopsy to be carried out quickly and without the presence of any of the victim's family members, which raises more doubts that the victim was tortured and died during interrogation.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights regrets the death of the victim.
The Center strongly condemns the continued conduct of politically motivated and the practice of torture and cruel and inhuman treatment of detainees detentions throughout the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt).
Therefore, Al Mezan Center reaffirms the following: 1.
Palestinian law prohibits torturing and/or exposing any person to cruel, degrading treatment or punishment under any conditions.
Torture in this context is interpreted in line with the UN Convention Against Torture (Article 1), which defines torture as ' any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity'.
Principle 7 of the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment states that '[T]he term 'cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment' should be interpreted so as to extend the widest possible protection against abuses, whether physical or mental'.
Principle 6 further states that '[N]o circumstance whatever may be invoked as a justification for torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment' (emphasis added).
Palestinian law criminalizes torture.
It further provides a specific set of rules that govern the conduct of arrest and detention as well as the parties that are authorized to issue arrest warrants and carry them out.
It also defines the facilities where individuals may be detained and the maximum period of detention without judicial review.
These protections must be closely observed and must be part of relevant investigations.
Palestinian law stipulates that the lack of respect of these rules renders illegal any detentions and consequent judicial proceedings.
Observance of these rules will enhance respect of the due process by law enforcement personnel while performing arrest and detention.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights therefore reiterates its previously stated demands that all politically motivated detentions must stop immediately.
The Center calls on the attorney general to initiate an investigation into the conditions in which Amr died.
The investigation should include considering the conditions in which the arrest, detention and interrogation were carried out, the identity of the party that issued the arrest warrant - if such a warrant was issued - the party that carried out the detention and the facility in which the victim was detained.
Al Mezan Center reaffirms that torture is a crime under Palestinian law.
The families of the victims of this crime must have the right to press charges against those who prove to be involved in their torture now and in the future.
Al Mezan Center calls on Palestinian political parties and factions, particularly Fatah and Hamas movements, to exert more efforts in order to come over the current political rift.
The environment that has been created by the political split has worked as the main force behind the serious violations of human rights by Palestinian entities in the oPt.
It has also been extremely damaging to the cause and the rights of the Palestinian people.