[JURIST] A report [executive summary, PDF; press release] released Monday by Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq [advocacy website] indicates that officials for Palestinian security and military agencies frequently detain, torture and mistreat citizens from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The report, released the same day as a similar report [text, PDF; press release] by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website], states that most of the arrests and subsequent detainee mistreatment incidents are motivated by tensions between Hamas and Fatah groups, and are not legally valid. In the press release, Al-Haq officials wrote:
New trends have included an increase in psychological torture, an increase in arbitrary arrests, and arrests and detention carried out in violation of the Palestinian Basic Law and penal procedural laws. And while government officials have pledged to bring the security forces into line with the law and punish those responsible, the reality on the ground remains bleak. By not taking action against the perpetrators, and in the absence of legitimate and sustained monitoring internally and externally of their security forces, these officials are encouraging these illegal practices.The group said that the Palestinian government should enact a law prohibiting torture, enact military laws, give the Palestinian High Court oversight powers over the military, enforce external and internal oversight measures, increase accountability, and inform citizens of their rights. AP has more.
Tension in the Palestinian territories has increased lately as competing Palestinian governments controlled by Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas [BBC backgrounders] in Gaza have struggled for power. In May, the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens' Rights (PICCR) [advocacy website] reported that it had received more than 2,000 reports of human rights abuses by Palestinian factions in 2007, including illegal detentions and torture. In 2007, Amnesty International [advocacy website] criticized the two Palestinian groups [JURIST report] for causing wide-scale violence involving civilians.