Israel’s Justice Ministry is working on a bill to declare torture of suspects during an interrogation a criminal act, Israel’s Deputy Attorney General Dr. Roy Schöndorf (International Law) on Tuesday told a panel of the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT) in Geneva. The proposed new law is yet to receive the endorsement of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked or of AG Avichai Mandelblit, and it will certainly face stiff opposition from the security apparatus and possibly from Prime Minister Netanyahu.
According to Ha’aretz, it isn’t clear at this point whether the proposed law would recognize the Israeli Supreme Court’s allowance for a “ticking bomb” situation.
Recently, in the Duma village arson/murder investigation, the ticking bomb provision was expanded by former AG Yehuda Weinstein to include, essentially, any prisoner out of whom Weinstein wanted to squeeze a confession, or the “ticking shmicking, you make him talk” rule.
Article 1.1 of the Convention against Torture defines torture as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”
The Committee against Torture (CAT) is a body of human rights experts that monitors implementation of the Convention by State parties. Members are elected to four-year terms by State parties and can be re-elected if nominated.
The Israeli Supreme Court 1999 decision prohibited the use of violent interrogation means, in the absence of a law that sets clear limits in this area. According to that ruling, Shabak interrogators are not allowed to use shaking and creative tying up of prisoners, nor can they use sleep deprivations. But then AG Elyakim Rubinstein issued directives specifying in which cases Shabak interrogators would not be indicted for shaking, tying up and sleep-depriving their prisoners.
Dr. Schöndorf and the rest of the Israeli delegation are expected to appear again on Wednesday before the CAT, to respond to a few concerns raised yesterday by the committee regarding the new legislation.JNi.Media