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Amnesty briefs UN CAT about Israel's human rights violations in the OPT

Amnesty International has submitted a briefing to the Committee Against Torture in view of its consideration of Israel’s fourth periodic report on its implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The briefing focuses on Amnesty International’s concerns about Israel’s failure to implement the Convention against Torture particularly in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), and the intensification of measures amounting to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment against Palestinians through indefinite administrative detention without trial, prolonged incommunicado detention, demolitions of homes, gross restrictions on freedom of movement, and denial of necessary medical care. The briefing also addresses the forcible return of asylum-seekers and other migrants to countries where they may be exposed to torture.

In light of the approach adopted by Israel in its report to the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council, recalled in a previous post, where the human rights situation in the OPT was not referenced even once throughout the whole report, Amnesty’s briefing notes that it is concerned that once again Israel has produced a state party report to a UN treaty body which denies the applicability of UN treaties in the OPT. Israel’s position that its international human rights treaty obligations do not apply in the OPT has been rejected by all the UN treaty bodies and by the International Court of Justice.

Furthermore, and not apart from what is going on in the OPT at moment during the time of the olive harvest (see this news piece), the briefing rehashes what is one of the gravest war crimes committed by Israel in the OPT – the transfer of its population into occupied territory and the continued establishment and development of settlements in violations of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Article 8(2)(vii) of the Rome Statute.

Israel has settled more than 450,000 Israelis in the occupied West Bank, including some 200,000 in East Jerusalem. Some 140 settlements have been established for Israelis on confiscated Palestinian land. The settlements form part of a discriminatory government policy which enables settlers to receive generous housing allowances and tax incentives from the government and to be protected by the Israeli army. Israel’s seizure of Palestinian land and natural resources for the expansion of settlements and related infrastructure has resulted in violations of Article 16 of the Convention against Torture, including by severe restrictions on movement, and destruction of homes and lands.

Other alarming matters highlighted by the report include: torture carried out by General Security Service interrogators; the denial of medical care to patients from Gaza (constituting a violation of Article 16 of Convention); and the new policy of “hot returns” where the Israeli army along their border with Egypt refoul asylum-seekers to Egypt within a few hours from their entry without the opportunity to appeal.

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