On 24 February 2008 Al-Haq publicly called for the Monitoring and Public Freedoms Committee of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) to investigate the death in custody of Majd abdel Aziz Barghouti, who died on the evening of Friday 22 February 2008, and the inaction of the Attorney-General in relation to this incident
. The deceased had been in the custody of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service (GIS) since 14 February 2008. Al-Haq’s preliminary investigations into the case raised serious concerns that the arrest, detention and interrogation of Majd abdel Aziz Barghouti, and his treatment during GIS custody, were in violation of fundamental human rights protections relating to the treatment of prisoners and the administration of justice..
On 3 April 2008, an ad hoc PLC Committee that was formed to investigate the death of Majd abdel Aziz Barghouti released its findings, which confirmed Al-Haq’s initial concerns. Among the main findings of the ad hoc Committee were:
- The initial arrest of Majd abdel Aziz Bargouthi was carried out unlawfully.
- Due process guarantees were not respected by the GIS.
- There was clear evidence of torture and ill-treatment.
- There were inconsistencies between the autopsy which stated the cause of death to be heart failure and the deceased’s prior medical history and physical condition. The autopsy further failed to note the bruising and other signs of physical abuse obvious in photographic evidence.
- There is a lack of oversight from within the GIS and from the Attorney-General regarding the treatment of detainees and the monitoring of detention centres.
- Detention centres do not have adequate medical facilities for prisoners.
- Although the Presidential Decree extending the jurisdiction of the military courts has been cancelled, the GIS persist in bringing civilian detainees before military judges.
On the basis of these findings, the PLC Committee made a number of recommendations including, but not limited to:
- Those responsible for the torture, ill-treatment and death of Majd abdel Aziz Bargouthi must be prosecuted.
- Detention centres must have suitable medical facilities.
- An immediate decision prohibiting all forms of torture and ill-treatment in places of detention must be issued.
- The work of PLC Committees monitoring the treatment of prisoners and conditions in detention centres must be facilitated.
- Arrest and detention for reason of political affiliation or lawful exercise of the right to freedom of expression must be prohibited.
- The Attorney-General must exercise jurisdiction over all places of arrest and detention.
Al-Haq fully endorses the findings and recommendations of the Committee and calls on the relevant authorities to immediately act upon the Committee’s report.
An unofficial translation of the full report into English can be found here.
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