News / Middle East

    HRW Report Details Gaza Prison Abuse, Torture

    A Palestinian inmate stands behind the bars of a Hamas-run jail in Gaza City after prayers during the holy month of Ramadan, July 23, 2012.A Palestinian inmate stands behind the bars of a Hamas-run jail in Gaza City after prayers during the holy month of Ramadan, July 23, 2012.
    x
    A Palestinian inmate stands behind the bars of a Hamas-run jail in Gaza City after prayers during the holy month of Ramadan, July 23, 2012.
    A Palestinian inmate stands behind the bars of a Hamas-run jail in Gaza City after prayers during the holy month of Ramadan, July 23, 2012.
    Selah Hennessy
    The criminal justice system in the Gaza Strip is riddled with problems including arbitrary arrests, torture and unfair trials, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch. It says Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that controls Gaza, has allowed a culture of impunity to spread. Hamas slammed the report as being "politically motivated."

    Human Rights Watch carried out interviews with alleged victims and their families, along with lawyers and judges, and reviewed case files and court judgments. It concluded that Hamas security services are committing a range of serious violations.

    The rights group says people in Gaza often are arrested without a warrant and are subsequently tortured. It says trials are unfair, with civilians being tried by military courts - in violation of international law - and detainees denied access to a lawyer.

    Hamas representatives, who appeared Wednesday at HRW's news conference in Gaza, said the report is riddled with mistakes and is unfair.


    But Human Rights Watch says when complaints are made against Hamas, little is done to investigate abuse, and Hamas authorities have failed to investigate and prosecute abusive security officials.

    Bill Van Esveld from Human Rights Watch spoke to VOA from Gaza. He said witnesses reported abuse by the Internal Security agency, but also by other agencies, including the drugs unit of the civil police force and police detectives.

    “People accused of financial impropriety, people accused of dealing drugs, are being detained by units of the police force and allegedly tortured by them," said Van Esveld. "So this looks increasingly like a problem of impunity, meaning that torture is spreading to different branches of the security service, rather than something that is being orchestrated from on high.”

    Hamas officials say since taking power in 2007 they have disciplined hundreds of members of the security services because of abuse.

    Speaking to the BBC, Hamas’s deputy foreign minister said the Human Rights Watch report is one-sided, but that allegations of abuse are being investigated. Ghazi Hamad said instances of abuse are exceptional.

    “In general I can confirm that there is no torture and we are trying now to follow all the international laws in the jails and in the prisons and everywhere," said Hamad.

    Van Esveld said the evidence collected by Human Rights Watch and other campaign groups tells a different story. The Palestine-based Independent Commission for Human Rights says it received at least 147 complaints of torture in 2011.

    “To say that torture is not happening flies in the face of all the evidence and it's a very negative response. The first step to solving this problem is to acknowledge that it's going on, that it's severe and the culture of impunity needs to be ended,” he said.

    The 43-page report is titled “Abusive System: Criminal Justice in Gaza.”

    You May Like

    South Sudan Sends First Ever Official Olympic Team to Rio

    VOA caught up with Santino Kenyi, 16, one of three athletes who will compete in this year's summer games in Brazil

    Arrest of Malawi's 'Hyena' Man Highlights Clash of Ritual, Health and Women's Rights

    Ritual practice of deflowering young girls is blamed for spreading deadly AIDS virus

    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    VOA finds things Americans take for granted are special to foreigners

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Dr Nasrat Hijazi from: Canada
    October 04, 2012 9:47 PM
    I am of Palestinian descent and very glad that some body has the integrity and courage to expose Hamas for what it is: a terrorist unethical organization that is out to enrich its members and abuse the Palestinians hundreds of times worse than Israel or Lebanon ever did. As a Palestinian I advocate that Palestinians have a higher priority to rid themselves of Hamas before they rid themselves of Israeli occupation. Hamas is the worst thing that happended to the Palestinians since refusal of the Partitioning Plan in 1947-1948.

    Hamas leaders have no political, economic or any skills to be members of the GREAT PALESTINIAN people let alone determining the future of all palestinians. Since they believe in Jihad and Martordom and Paradise to follow, some body should give them a speedy trip to their destination so that Palestinians can claim their legitimate place in the human family as civilized tolerant and an assest to the human Race.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora