EXTERNAL AI Index: MDE 15/38/97
UA 249/97 Fear of Torture 31 July 1997
ISRAEL/OCCUPIED TERRITORIESMa’mun Omer Mustafa Hamad (24), construction worker
Ma’mun Omer Mustafa Hamad was arrested on 23 July 1997 and is being held in
incommunicado detention in the interrogation wing of the Jerusalem Detention
Centre. Amnesty International fears that he is being subjected to torture during
His lawyer, Andre Rosenthal, working with the Israeli human rights organization,
HaMoked, has been denied access to him by a General Security Service (GSS)
order until midnight 31 July 1997. The lawyer appealed to the Israeli Supreme
Court sitting as the High Court of Justice on 28 July for access to his client.
The appeal was heard on the morning of 29 July and was denied.
Furthermore, the Court refused to make any comment to the request of the lawyer
that no physical force be used during the interrogation of Ma’mun Hamad. This
heightened the lawyer’s concern that his client was being tortured during
interrogation. He lodged another petition requesting the Israeli State Attorney
to intervene in the interrogation methods used by the GSS, so that no physical
force would be used against his client.
Torture is absolutely prohibited under international law. This obligation
cannot be derogated from under any circumstances. Article 2 (2) of the UN
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
or Punishment, which Israel ratified in 1991, says "No exceptional circumstances
whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political
instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification
Principles 1 and 7 of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers state:
"All persons are entitled to call upon the assistance of a lawyer of their
choice to protect and establish their rights and to defend them in all stages
of criminal proceedings."
"Governments shall further ensure that all persons arrested or detained, with
or without criminal charge, shall have prompt access to a lawyer, and in any
case not later than forty-eight hours from the time of arrest or detention".
Amnesty International has for years expressed its concern that secret guidelines
to the 1987 Landau report on the GSS allow the use of torture or ill-treatment.
The Landau report allowed the use of "moderate physical pressure"; since October
1994 a special ministerial committee has allowed "increased physical pressure".
GSS officers testifying in court admit using prolonged sleep deprivation,
position abuse by holding detainees for long periods standing or sitting in
painful positions while deprived of sleep, and squatting (gambaz) for up to
two hours at a time. Violent shaking (tiltul), which may cause brain damage,
has been recorded for years and can be authorized by the head of the GSS. However,
while admitting these methods are used, the Israeli Government denies that
they constitute torture. Amnesty International does not agree; nor does the
UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, who has referred to many of these practices
as "methods of torture". In May 1997, the UN Committee against Torture stated
that Israeli methods of interrogation constitute torture as defined in article
1 of the Convention against Torture.