Israel denies detainees lawyer

PressTV – Fri Dec 31, 2010 3:27PM

Human rights organizations have criticized Israel for mistreating Palestinian detainees and forcing them to sign confessions in exchange for access to legal advice.

The Palestinian Prisoner Society and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel have revealed in a joint report that up to 90 percent of West Bank Palestinians held in Israeli jails are denied access to a lawyer and are often physically and psychologically tortured, a Press TV correspondent reported on Friday.

The report also criticized Israeli civil and military law which allows authorities to deny Palestinian prisoners a lawyer for six month — which can be extended for an additional six months — during which the Palestinian detainees are subject to harsh interrogations by Israel’s internal security agency Shin Bet.

According to the report, Palestinian prisoners will be allowed to visit a lawyer or contact their family only after they confess to the crimes that they are accused of. The study condemns these interrogations for being against international laws.

The Palestinians detainees, who testified, say during the interrogations they were exposed to excessive torture and psychological abuse including “painful and prolonged shackling to a chair, painful cuffing of the hands, sleep deprivation, repeated threats to harm the detainee and his family, the conditioning of meeting an attorney with confession, giving of false information to the detainee and intentional deception of the detainee.”

“I asked [repeatedly] for them to inform my mother that I am alive. The interrogator said he would allow this only after I confess … the interrogator took me to the interrogation room and shackled me to the chair with handcuffs. I stayed until 3 a.m. and was then returned to the isolation cell. Around 8 a.m. I was taken to interrogation,” Ziad Shanti, who was arrested in October 2006, said.

The authors of the study have unfolded that between 70 to 90 percent of the detainees in the years 2005 to 2007 were forbidden to meet a lawyer in order to provide council and assistance prior to signing a confession. The average time prisoners were isolated from the outside world was 16.7 days. Shin Bet has refused to reveal the number of detainees who had no access to legal services.

The Public Committee Against Torture has called for new rules on when prisoners can be denied access to a lawyer and for cameras to be placed in interrogation facilities to monitor questioning in the hopes that basic human right will prevail.

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