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From the field

Re the HCJ decision on Torture

B'Tselem welcomes today's decision by the High Court of Justice, which puts an end to torture in Israel. As a result, Israel now joins the world's enlightened nations.

This is one of the most important decisions made by the High Court during the nation's history. "What was at stake here," said Eitan Felner, executive director of B'Tselem, "was nothing less than Israel's moral integrity and foundation as a democratic state, subject to the rule of law. Courageously, and without bowing to the enormous pressure from the State's security establishment, Attorneys, and portions of the Israeli public, the Justices performed their duty as primary defenders of human rights." "Regretfully," adds Felner, "this decision comes too late for the tens of thousands of Palestinians who have been tortured, including thousands subsequently released with no charges brought against them. "

However, the true test will be in implementation of the High Court's decision. It is inconceivable that the Shin Bet will not honor the letter and spirit of the decision, and immediately cease torturing Palestinian detainees. However, it should not be forgotten that, in the past, Shin Bet agents have used prohibited methods of interrogation and later denied it in court.

Torturing detainees is not only illegal and immoral; it also does not lead to obtaining accurate information. Under torture, detainees readily lie thus misleading the interrogators.

B'Tselem does not ignore the threat of terror against Israelis. However, it believes that sufficient lawful means are available to ensure their peace and safety.