A study by Public Committee Against Torture and Palestinian Prisoners’ Society says as many as 90 percent of Palestinian prisoners interrogated by Israel’s notorious intelligence agency, Shin Bet, are prevented from consulting with a lawyer, the Israeli Ha’aretz daily paper reported on its website.
The NGO further noticed that the prohibition is not in accordance with Israeli civilian and military legislation, despite the Shin Bet’s claims that it has legal clearance to keep certain detainees from lawyers.
Dr. Maya Rosenfeld, who authored the document, also pointed out that during prolonged periods when prisoners are deprived of meeting with lawyers, the Shin Bet uses interrogation methods that are in contrast to both international and Israeli laws.
Sleep deprivation, threats of harming family members and humiliation are among the methods commonly employed by Israeli interrogators. Other techniques include tying prisoners for long hours to a chair with their hands behind the back and keeping them for long periods in unsanitary cells.
The Shin Bet has refused to provide data on the numbers of Palestinian detainees prevented from meeting with a lawyer, while a petition filed by the human rights group Yesh Din and the Movement for Freedom of Information in March 2009 is still pending.
The blackout prompted the Public Campaign and the Prisoners Society to conduct a research and cross-reference its information with different sources to reach an almost reliable estimate of the numbers of prisoners denied access to lawyers.
The study revealed that out of 11,970 Palestinians interrogated by the Shin Bet between 2000 and 2007, between 8,379 to 10,773 were not allowed to consult with an attorney.
The report, titled “When the Exception Becomes the Rule,” said preventing a meeting with a lawyer for long periods enables illegal interrogation aimed at physical and psychological exhaustion of prisoners, and forcing them into false confessions.
The report indicates that the scope of the phenomenon has not reduced in recent years and describes the legal efforts the Public Committee has undertaken in recent years against the phenomenon as “fruitless.”
Earlier, an Israeli rights group said the Shin Bet holds prisoners under “harrowing conditions” in solitary cells.