Follow up on holding conditions at the Petah Tikva detention facility by B’Tselem and HaMoked: HaMoked files 3 HCJ petitions regarding the severe holding conditions and deficiencies in investigating complaints by detainees:
In 2008 and 2009, HaMoked and B’Tselem surveyed holding conditions at a detention facility in Petah Tikva which also houses an Israel Security Agency (ISA) interrogation facility. The organizations received many complaints from Palestinians who had been held in the facility, revealing routine interrogation practices that included measures prohibited under both Israeli and international law. These measures constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and, in some cases, amount to torture. The complainants complained about the holding conditions to which they had been subjected from the time of their initial arrest by the soldiers and throughout their detention and interrogation at the ISA facility. In November 2010, the organizations published their findings on the facility in a joint report entitled Kept in the Dark
HaMoked continued to monitor the issue after publication of the report in order to uncover the truth and bring offenders to justice. Complaints regarding ISA interrogators were followed up with the supervisor of the ISA complaints comptroller at the Ministry of Justice. Complaints regarding soldier violence were followed up with the Military Advocate General’s office. On October 31, 2011, after reaching a dead end, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ).
The first petition
challenges the refusal of the comptroller's supervisor to disclose to HaMoked the information that formed the basis for his decision to close each of the 12 complaints transferred to him. These complaints concerned violence, degradation and abuse by ISA interrogators during the complainants’ detention in Petah Tikva. An HCJ petition was required in each case
in order to receive the information that the complaints had been ruled unsubstantiated and that the files had been closed. HaMoked requested to view the information which formed the basis for these decisions but received no response, despite repeated reminders. HaMoked stresses that the right to access these materials is part of the right to due process.Another petition
relates to unacceptable delays by the military justice system in handling HaMoked’s requests to open investigations into Palestinians’ complaints regarding severe abuse by soldiers during their arrest and transportation to interrogation. These requests were made some two years ago and HaMoked has since sent many reminders only to be met by a single brief response: “the file is under investigation”. In the petition, HaMoked refers to the breach of the Military Advocate General’s obligation to launch investigations without delay. HaMoked notes that this is a severe violation of the rights of the individuals whose complaints are not being investigated fairly. HaMoked further notes that due to the unreasonable delay, the soldiers involved are no longer on active duty and the time that has elapsed since the incidents occurred makes uncovering the truth difficult. HaMoked concludes by stating “the current state of affairs leads to impunity among soldiers as non-enforcement eliminates the law’s deterring effect”.The third petition
refers to the unacceptable holding conditions at the Petah Tikva detention facility. Holding conditions at the facility fail to meet minimum international standards or Israeli standards. The petition is based on affidavits by men who had been detained in the Petah Tikva facility at different times and for varying durations. It reveals a harsh reality: small isolation cells with exposed concrete walls, lights that are kept on 24 hours a day, cold air flowing into the cells, a shortage of blankets and poor sanitation and food. These are just some of the conditions described in the petition. HaMoked concludes with a request to improve holding conditions at Petah Tikva and bring them to a level which is suitable for holding human beings and meets the minimum standards set by Israeli and international law.