First-ever law suit against PA for rampant torture

November 2, 2015  

The rampant human rights abuses committed by the Palestinian Authority (PA) have seldom merited public attention due to the PA’s crackdown on the topic, but one daring resident has raised awareness on the issue by suing the PA over the torture he was subjected to.

The Palestinian Arab Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) received no less than 1,274 complaints of “violations of the right to physical safety” by detainees in 2014 alone, with 287 of those cases coming from Judea and Samaria, and another 996 from Gaza.

One Arab resident of Samaria, 22-year-old Ahmad al-Deek decided to stand up against the abuse however, and told BuzzFeed about his ordeal of five days of torture by the PA Security Forces in an article published Sunday.

Al-Deek is suing the PA for $1 million in damages, in the first such case against the PA for its rampant abuses. He is being represented by ISTIQLAL, an independent team of lawyers and human rights activists, which says many people have contacted them since the launch of the case, asking if the group will represent them in similar cases against the PA.

Al-Deek’s brutal torture was brought about by a Facebook post he wrote against the PA government on July 3, in which he wrote “f*** the Municipality.” 

Three days later his brother, an intelligence officer with the PA, was told by a superior that al-Deek was requested to arrive at a local police station for investigation over the post. The brother told al-Deek he would get a maximum fine of $30 and a lecture before being summarily released.

But it was no slap on the wrist that al-Deek received when he arrived at the northern village of Salfit in Samaria, before being transferred from local police who questioned him over the post to PA intelligence services – who accused him of burning a local politician’s car before beating him.

During his five days of detention, interrogation and torture, al-Deek insisted on his innocence regarding the arson charges, and told the security personnel “if you’re so sure it was me, why don’t you charge me, and try me in a court, with evidence.” In response, he says they beat him even harder.

Singing torture

Aside from the beatings, he reports being the subject of sleep deprivation and being put in forced-stress positions, all of which are classic means of torture that are reportedly widely used by the PA.

“There were five (interrogators). They took turns beating me,” al-Deek revealed. “At first, I thought one of them was a good guy. He said he knew my brother, and that he wanted to help me. He turned out to be the worst.”

Al-Deek said that some of the worst torture came the day before his release, when he was interrogated for eight hours until dawn. With his head covered by a black canvas bag, he heard one interrogator ask another for a stick “wrapped in wire.”

“They moved me to a room with two chairs in it,” Ahmad said. “They made me sit with my arms cuffed behind one chair. They told me to elevate my legs on the other chair. One of the interrogators – he was so fat – sat on my lap and started singing a traditional Egyptian love song. The others took turns hitting me with the stick. When it broke, they took the curtain rail and hit me with it.”

The song sung by the torturer is now stuck in his head, says al-Deek, noting that he often wants to listen to it now in a bizarre side effect of the torture.

After five days of torture, al-Deek was released but was unable to walk without the help of one of his torturers.

According to his attorneys, a medical report from a hospital in Shechem (Nablus) found that his injuries were indeed the result of torture, adding additional evidence to his case.

“The medical test, x-rays, and other needed tests showed that the patient had several bruises on his feet, abdomen and back, but no broken bones or serious wounds,” the report said.

The case highlights the rampant abuse under PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who promised to address the topic of torture after signing the Convention Against Torture (CAT) on April 2, 2014, in a unilateral move breaching the 1994 Oslo Accords that formed the PA.

Despite his promises, ISTIQLAL reports that at least 70 new complaints of torture have come in since the convention was signed.

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