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Friday, 23 November, 2001, 17:30 GMT
UN warns Israel over torture reports
Masked Israeli security forces arrest a Palestinian
Israel has been asked to review its practices
By the BBC's Emma Jane Kirby in Geneva

The United Nations Committee Against Torture, has warned Israel that it has several concerns about the interrogation methods used by the Israeli Security Agency against Palestinian detainees.

No exceptional circumstances can be invoked as justification for torture

Committee Against Torture

In its concluding report on Israel, the Committee also said it was unhappy with reports of torture and ill treatment towards Palestinian minors.

The Committee, which is made up of 10 independent experts, said it was worried about methods allegedly used by the Israeli Security Forces which include sleep-deprivation and the use of incommunicado detention for both Palestinian adults and children.

Experts also noted that there had been very few prosecutions against alleged perpetrators of torture and that there were several reported instances of "extra-judicial killings".

'No justification'

Israel's ambassador, Yaakov Levy, who has been defending his country's record, maintained that Israel's security forces did not use interrogation methods which amounted to torture and he added that Israel was being forced to fight "terrorism" with its "hands tied behind its back."

Israeli ambassador Yaakov Levy
Mr Levy denied the charges
The Committee acknowledged Israel's security concerns in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the latest upsurge of fighting but said that "no exceptional circumstances" justified torture.

In view of the reports, the Committee recommended that the Israeli Government take all necessary steps to prevent such abuses and "to institute effective complaint and investigative mechanisms."

It also urged Israel to review its laws and policies to ensure that all detainees were brought quickly before a judge and ensured prompt access to lawyers.

See also:

20 Nov 01 | Middle East
Mid-East awaits next US move
20 Nov 01 | Middle East
Powell pledges US role in Mid-East
20 Nov 01 | Americas
US renews efforts at Mid-East peace
19 Nov 01 | Middle East
Powell praised for Mid-East speech
17 Nov 01 | Middle East
Israelis leave West Bank town
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