The Arab League has called for international pressure to be applied on Israel to ratify the Convention Against Torture. The call follows the League’s condemnation of the “dangerous measures” taken by the Israeli authorities with regard to the treatment of Palestinian prisoners, “in the absence of controlling devices and the apparent lack of mechanisms and safeguards to prevent torture in prisons.”
Israel’s refusal to sign the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) prompted the Arab League’s General Secretariat to issue its statement, which condemned the Jewish state for not adopting OPCAT in its prisons.
“This culture is almost nonexistent [in Israeli prisons] because Israel has not made commitments in line with human rights conventions,” said the General Secretariat’s statement.
The Arab League has drawn attention to the fact that many reports have raised concerns about the conditions and status of Palestinian detainees held in Israeli jails as well as the increasingly high number of prisoners: the latter include so-called administrative detainees, people in solitary confinement, those detained under the Israeli law on “illegal combatants”, and juveniles detained on security grounds. The statement also emphasized its concerns about Israel’s interrogation of prisoners and the open involvement of the intelligence services during such sessions.
The statement calls upon the UN General Assembly, the international community, regional and international human rights organizations as well as the co-signatory countries of the protocols annexed to human rights conventions to urge Israel to complete its ratification of the UN Convention Against Torture by signing and adopting OPCAT. This should be the first step towards greater openness, cooperation and dialogue for tackling torture in Israeli prisons and working towards its eradication.