Amnesty slams PA for torturing Palestinian woman

“The Palestinian authorities must immediately take steps to ensure that Suha Jbara is guaranteed a fair trial and protected from torture,” Amnesty International demands.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Amnesty International  denounced the Palestinian Authority (PA) Wednesday for torturing one of its citizens ever since her arrest a month ago and is demanding an immediate investigation.

A social justice activist who also holds Panamanian citizenship, Suha Jbara was interviewed by the human rights organization on Tuesday.

PA authorities arrested her on November 3 for allegedly trying to help the families of Palestinian prisoners by “collecting and distributing money in illegal ways,” a charge which she denies.

The interrogator “insulted me all the time, used very dirty and violent sexual language…and threatened to hurt my family and to take my kids away from me,” Jbara told Amnesty.

“Suha Jbara has described her torture in harrowing detail. In her testimony she gives an account of ruthless interrogators who have shamelessly flouted Palestine’s obligations to treat prisoners humanely and violated the absolute prohibition under international law of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” said Saleh Higazi, the organization’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa in a statement.

“The Palestinian authorities must urgently carry out an independent and impartial investigation into these allegations. Any officials identified as responsible must be immediately suspended, prosecuted and brought to justice,” the statement said.

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Handcuffed, blindfolded, punched and threatened during the interrogations, as well as being denied the right to see a lawyer, Jbara began a hunger strike on November 22. Medical staff and several Palestinian officials, including the governor of Jericho, have been pressuring her to eat but she has thus far resisted, the prisoner told an Amnesty representative.

“Instead of punishing her for embarking on a hunger strike, which is a legitimate form of protest, the Palestinian authorities must immediately take steps to ensure that Suha Jbara is guaranteed a fair trial and that she is protected from torture,” Higazi demanded.

Amnesty International also called on international donors to review their assistance to the Palestinian security sector in order to ensure that it is not facilitating human rights violations and adheres to international standards.

The organization, which has often sharply attacked Israel for its alleged human rights violations against Palestinians, also criticized the Palestinian side in August last year after both the PA and Hamas arrested several journalists, at least one of whom was allegedly tortured in Gaza.