PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 15/27/99
EXTRA 43/99 Torture / Legal concern / Health concern 12 March 1999
ISRAEL/OCCUPIED TERRITORIESMuna Hassan Awad Barhasin (f), nursery school
manager, aged 28
Amnesty International is alarmed at reports that Muna Hassan Awad Barhasin,
a Palestinian woman arrested last month at an Israeli military checkpoint in
the West Bank, is being tortured and ill-treated under interrogation by Israel’s
General Security Service (GSS).
Muna Hassan Awad Barhasin was arrested on 15 February 1999 as she was on her
way to work at a nursery school she runs in Jenin, close to her home village
of ‘Arabeh. She is now being held at Kishon Detention Center in Israel.
She was held incommunicado until 2 March when she was finally allowed to see
her family and a lawyer. She had apparently been held in shabeh, a torture
method where detainees are shackled, hooded, to a small chair for hours while
loud disorientating music is played. This apparently continued until 28 February
after which she was only allowed to sleep for four hours a day. She reported
that GSS interrogators had tried to pressure her to confess to actions she
had not committed and had threatened to put her in administrative detention
(where detainees are held without charge or trial for a renewable period of
up to 6 months on the orders of a military commander).
Muna Hassan Awad Barhasin has reportedly been on hunger strike since 16 February
but is drinking water.
For years, Amnesty International has expressed concern that secret Israeli
guidelines (authorized by the so-called Landau report in 1987), allow for the
use of torture or ill-treatment, which it refers to as "moderate physical
pressure". Similarly, since October 1994 a special ministerial committee has
said that "increased physical pressure" can be used during interrogation.
GSS officers who have testified in court admit to using prolonged sleep
deprivation, forcing detainees to sit or stand in painful positions for long
periods of time and squatting (gambaz) for up to two hours at a time. Violent
shaking (tiltul), which may cause brain damage, has also been used but must
be authorized by the head of the GSS.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and the UN Committee against Torture have
referred to many of these practices as "methods of torture" as defined in the
UN Convention against Torture. The Israeli government, however, denies they
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in Hebrew or English or your own language:
- asking the Israeli authorities whether shabeh has been used on Muna Hassan
Awad Barhasin at Kishon Detention Center and reminding them that this practice
constitutes torture, in breach of the Convention against Torture to which Israel
is a State Party;
- asking that the use of any interrogation methods which constitute torture
or ill-treatment cease immediately;