Interrogators have complete immunity (illustration)
Photo: Reuters

Report: Judicial system permits use of torture

New report shows that complaints of torture filed by interrogees against Shin Bet operatives are not investigated, 'swept under rug' by judiciary system

A new report by the Public Committee against Torture in Israel presented some controversial data, according to which out of some 600 complaints of abuse filed by interrogees against Shin Bet operatives in the past nine years, none were transferred by the legal advisor to the police investigation unit.


The full report will be published Monday, as part of a convention to mark ten years to a High Court Ruling according to which the defense establishment must not use torture as an interrogation technique. The authors of the report claim that state authorities systematically impeded the probing of torture complaints during Shin Bet investigations.


The authors further claimed that the top judicial authorities in Israel aid in preventing criminal investigations against those suspected of committing torture, in clear contradiction with their duty to check each and every complaint.


In addition, the report claimed that the fact the state does not operate a rudimentary investigation apparatus to examine complaints of torture, gives interrogators complete immunity while committing severe criminal offences.


"This constitutes a consent and even encouragement of the law enforcement authorities to conduct torture acts in Shin Bet investigation rooms," read the report.


Members of the Public Committee against Torture also said that opening criminal investigation following complaints and bringing the torturers to justice is not done by external elements, but on behalf of the "complaint comptroller", who works under the Shin Bet and does not turn any of the complaints into criminal investigations.


'Legitimacy on acts of torture'

This conduct, the report said, is acceptable by the comptroller's supervisors in the Ministry of Justice and in the Attorney General office.


"In this way, the Attorney General and those acting on his behalf bestow legitimacy on acts of torture in Israel," read the report.


In addition, the committee members noted that interrogators are given envelopes that contain exemptions from visual and audio documentation of the investigations, and also frees them from the responsibility of having to meet with the interogees and their attorneys.


According to the report, the use of the envelopes allows interrogators to "sweep the complaints under the rug", and hinders the investigation that will bring those responsible to justice.


The Ministry of Justice rejected the report's findings, and stated that "while examining the complaints that were received, most of which were not filed by interogees, we have not found evidence of criminal offences.


"However, there were some complaints that have been transferred to our disciplinary board, and other complaints that led to the drawing of operational conclusions. The complaints are examined by the "complaint comptroller", and after that by his superior, who is a senior attorney in the Ministry of Justice. Only in very few cases, which deal with certain kinds of investigations, the decisions are transferred to the Attorney General for approval."


פרסום ראשון: 12.28.09, 01:05
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