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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid