Israel snubs UN concerns about prisoner abuse in Israeli jails
Tel Aviv authorities have rejected the concerns raised by a UN panel probing violations against prisoners, particularly against detained Palestinians in Israeli jails.
Michal Sarig-Kaduri, the deputy director of the human rights department at Israel’s Foreign Ministry, told United Nations’ Committee Against Torture on Wednesday that punitive measures such as solitary confinements and separation were “extremely restricted and used for short and limited periods of time, for a maximum of 14 days only.”
Solitary confinement is the practice of isolating inmates in closed cells, depriving them of any human contact.
Sarig-Kaduri explained that Israeli authorities use such tactics merely in cases when certain prisoners pose a threat to themselves or other inmates, adding, “As of today, 190 prisoners, which constitute only one percent of all prisoners, are held in separation in Israeli prisons.”
The remarks come as the UN committee, composed of 10 independent experts, is investigating Israel over a raft of violations of prisoners’ human rights. Israeli authorities are to appear before the panel as part of a review into Tel Aviv’s conduct as a signatory to the 1991 UN Convention Against Torture.
Jens Modvig, a member of the Geneva-based committee, said on Tuesday that the panel had “received reports that the use of solitary confinement in Israeli jails has doubled between 2012 and 2014,” from 390 to 755.
The UN committee compiles its statistics largely from data provided by civil society groups and independent reports.
The expert also urged Tel Aviv to respond to reports that Palestinian prisoners were subject to “verbal sexual harassment” and “repeated strip searches.” Modvig called on Israel to explain why the controversial practice has spread dramatically.
Modvig also denounced Tel Aviv regime for not legally enshrining any measures restricting the use of “handcuffs and restraints” during interrogation, while employing “immobilization and stress positions” on inmates being questioned.