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Friday, 30 November, 2001, 12:36 GMT
Palestinians accused of rights abuses
Palestinian police
Palestinian security forces are accused of torture
The Palestinian Authority has been accused of operating above the law and committing human rights abuses.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch says some members of the Palestinian security forces regularly torture prisoners, make arbitrary arrests and carry out executions after unfair trials.


Unfortunately the whole human rights issue doesn't appear either on the Israeli agenda or the Palestinian Authority agenda

Joe Stork, Human Rights Watch
The organisation says 450 Palestinians are being held without trial in prisons, most of them suspected of collaborating with Israel.

In a 50-page report it says detainees can spend months in jail without being charged or tried, while some are subjected to torture methods copied from the Israelis.

Human Rights Watch says that the majority of detainees are suspected of giving Israel information about other Palestinians or selling Palestinian land.

They are commonly arrested without a warrant and denied access to lawyers.

Israeli checkpoint
Israeli closures have aggravated the situation
The report says torture methods include suspending prisoners from the ceiling by the wrists, beating them on the soles of their feet, and forcing them to sit or stand in painful positions for long periods.

Joe Stork, an official at Human Rights Watch, says these are practices borrowed from Israel. "Most of the security officers have been in Israeli jails," he said.

Palestinian human rights campaigner Bassem Eid said five prisoners had died in custody, at least three from torture, since the current Palestinian uprising began in September 2000.

The report - Human Rights Watch's first study on the Palestinians since 1997 - also said vigilante killings go unpunished.

It cited at least 30 such executions in the past 14 months and complained that Palestinian security forces had done "virtually nothing" to identify those guilty.

'Revolving door policy'

The report blames Israel's severe restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement, and the destruction of the Palestinian law enforcement infrastructure for aggravating what it calls "the deterioration of the justice system".

"The Israeli closures and blockades have brought chaos to the legal system because judges and lawyers can't get to court," said lawyer Nick Howen, who wrote the report.

But it also backs an Israeli accusation that the Palestinians are operating what it calls "a revolving door policy" of arresting and releasing suspected militants.

Israel and the United States have demanded that the Palestinian Authority jail suspected terrorists.

Palestinian Authority officials had no immediate comment on the report.

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 ON THIS STORY
Human Rights Watch's Nick Howen
"The report echoes what human rights lawyers are saying"

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23 Nov 01 | Middle East
15 Aug 01 | Middle East
09 Feb 00 | Middle East
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