23 March 2008: Two policemen arrested for abusing Palestinian detainee

23 Mar 2008

On 11 March 2008, the Department for Investigation of Police arrested two policemen from the Ma'ale Adumim police station. The two are suspected of severely abusing a Palestinian from al-‘Eizariya, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem. The arrest followed a complaint made by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel.

In early November 2007, the Palestinian man was detained and taken to the police station at the Ma'ale Adumim settlement, where, according to the complaint, two policemen severely abused him. They inserted objects into his body, urinated on him, and beat him viciously, among other things. The detainee, who was later released without being charged, after being interrogated, continues to suffer pain in various parts of his body.

The arrest of policemen for abusing Palestinians is an extremely rare occurrence, even though abuse of Palestinians by Israeli security forces is common. In the Ma'ale Adumim police station alone, B'Tselem knows of two other cases in which police officers assaulted Palestinians. In 2007, B'Tselem wrote to the authorities about eighty-three cases in which security forces assaulted  Palestinians. This figure represents only a small portion of the number of cases of assault in which B'Tselem took testimonies. In the vast majority of cases, the authorities conduct a superficial investigation, and certainly do not prosecute assailants to the full extent of the law.

The prohibition on torture and ill-treatment in international law is absolute. Every country must thoroughly investigate every suspicion of torture or ill-treatment and bring the perpetrators to justice. Given that international law places responsibility for torture and ill-treatment not only on the state but also personally on the specific perpetrator, failure to initiate criminal proceedings in Israel exposes the perpetrators and persons in charge of them in the political echelon to criminal actions against them abroad.