Amnesty International has urged the Palestinian Authority to “urgently investigate” the alleged torture of Suha Jbara, a joint Palestinian, US and Panamanian citizen who has testified that she was “beaten, slammed against a wall and threatened with sexual violence by her interrogators”.
Jbara was arrested on 3 November “during a violent raid on her home”, and subsequently “questioned by prosecutors about allegations that she collected and distributed money in illegal ways, an accusation she denies”, Amnesty stated.
During a visit by Amnesty to the prison where she is being held, Jbara told the human rights group “about brutal treatment at the hands of her interrogators in a three-day ordeal”.
“She also told Amnesty she has suffered relentless harassment from officials to end a hunger strike she began on 22 November in protest at her detention and torture,” the press release continued.
She described how, upon her arrest, she had a seizure and lost consciousness and was taken to hospital. However, armed security officials later dragged her out of her hospital bed, barefoot, and transferred her to Jericho Interrogation and Detention Centre.
Once there, a male interrogator threw water in Jbara’s face, “slapped her, punched her on the chest and back, and threatened her with further violence”. She was “blindfolded and handcuffed throughout her interrogation and was not allowed to drink water or use the toilet.”
Amnesty added that Jbara was “denied access to a lawyer during interrogation and prosecutors from the attorney general’s office took her testimony in the presence of armed security officials at the interrogation centre”, and “she was also not allowed to read her testimony before signing it.”
Amnesty added that after having had her detention extended, Jbara is due in court today.
Jbara told Amnesty that she began a hunger strike on 22 November “in protest at her torture during interrogation and unfair treatment by the prosecution and judiciary”.
According to Jbara, “several officials – including the governor of Jericho, a high-ranking police officer as well as doctors and nurses -had tried to persuade her to stop her hunger strike. She was also told that she was being denied family visits or phone calls as punishment for her protest.”
Saleh Higazi, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director, said: “Suha Jbara has described her torture in harrowing detail. 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,” he added.
According to Amnesty, “Palestinian forces in the West Bank and Gaza have a track record of arbitrarily arresting peaceful activists, demonstrators and critics, many of whom have faced judicial proceedings that do not meet fair trial standards.”
“Amnesty is calling on international donors to the Palestinian security sector to review their assistance to ensure that it is not facilitating human rights violations and is in line with international standards.”