Annual Report: Palestinian Authority 2011

Report
May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Palestinian Authority 2011

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Arbitrary arrests and detentions

PA security forces in the West Bank arbitrarily arrested and detained suspected Hamas supporters, and Hamas security forces in Gaza arbitrarily arrested and detained suspected Fatah supporters. In both areas, the authorities gave the security forces wide powers of discretion, including to arrest and detain suspects in breach of the law and to torture and otherwise ill-treat them with impunity. The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) reported receiving complaints of more than 1,400 arbitrary arrests in the West Bank and more than 300 in Gaza.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees by security and police forces were reported - by the PA's Preventive Security force and the General Intelligence Service in the West Bank; and by Internal Security in Gaza. The ICHR said it had received over 150 complaints of torture or other ill-treatment by the PA in the West Bank and over 200 by Hamas in Gaza. New reports emerged of cases from 2009.

In both areas, torture and other ill-treatment were committed with impunity. In a rare prosecution, five members of the PA's General Intelligence Service were tried during 2010 in connection with the death in custody of Haitham Amr in June 2009, but were acquitted by a military court.

  • Mohammed Baraka Abdel-Aziz Abu-Moailek was reported to have been tortured by Internal Security officials in Gaza. He was held incommunicado for more than 50 days after his arrest in April 2009 on suspicion of "collaboration" with Israel. He said he was tortured with electric shocks, beaten on the soles of his feet (the falaqa method), burned with cigarettes and threatened with death to force him to confess. He remained on trial and in detention at the end of 2010.
  • Ahmed Salhab, a mechanic, was reported to have been tortured following arrest in September by PA security officials, allegedly for suspected association with Hamas. He said he was tied tightly in stress positions for long periods (the shabeh method). This exacerbated a serious back injury caused by previous torture by PA security officials. He was released without charge in October.

One death in custody following an assault by police was reported in Gaza.

  • Nazira Jaddou'a al-Sweirki died on 1 January shortly after she was hit on the back and otherwise assaulted by police in Gaza. Three of her adult sons were beaten and two were detained on suspicion of supporting Fatah.

Justice system

In the West Bank, the security authorities failed to comply with many court orders to release detainees. The PA continued to prohibit former members of the judiciary and police from working for the Hamas de facto administration in Gaza. In Gaza, the Hamas administration continued to use alternative prosecutors and judges who lacked appropriate training, qualifications and independence.

Death penalty

In Gaza, military and criminal courts sentenced at least 11 people to death. Five men were executed after trials that failed to meet international fair trial standards - two in April who had been convicted of "collaboration" with Israel; and three in May who had been convicted of murder.

Freedom of expression and association

Both the PA in the West Bank and the Hamas de facto administration in Gaza maintained tight controls on freedom of expression, and harassed and prosecuted journalists, bloggers and other critics.

  • Walid al-Husayin, a blogger, was detained by the General Intelligence Service on 31 October in the West Bank town of Qalqilya. He was suspected of posting comments on his blog advocating atheism and criticizing Islam and other religions. He remained held at the end of the year.
  • Paul Martin, a British journalist, was arrested in February by the Hamas authorities in Gaza after he tried to help a man accused of "collaboration" with Israel. Paul Martin was initially accused of spying for Israel but was released after 25 days in custody without charge.

The PA and Hamas authorities restricted freedom of association. Both prevented the Islamist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir from holding meetings, forcibly dispersed peaceful protests, and restricted the activities of other political parties and NGOs.