LONDON: The Palestinian Authority must improve fundamental legal safeguards against torture and ill-treatment, UN human rights experts have said.
A statement was issued on Monday by members of the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture following a visit to Palestine from Sept. 10-21.
The delegation visited 18 detention facilities across the West Bank, including prisons, police stations, facilities of the security forces, a psychiatric hospital and a military detention center.
It noted the government’s recent efforts, pointing to positive amendments to the penal code, but remains concerned over the implementation of torture prevention measures during detention and the establishment of a National Preventive Mechanism.
Members of the group met high-level officials, including the prime minister and the minister of interior, who coordinates the National Team for Monitoring the State’s Commitments.
They also met the Independent Commission for Human Rights, coordinating with its Gaza branch.
The group also spoke to bodies working on legislation relating to the NPM, and Daniel Fink, the leader of the delegation, expressed hope that the visit would encourage its formation.
He said: “In particular, we look forward to seeing an independent body that can carry out its mandate in accordance with the state’s legal international obligations, including unannounced visits to any places of deprivation of liberty.”
Palestine has been a party to the Convention Against Torture and its Optional Protocol since 2014 and 2017, respectively.
States that ratify the protocol give the SPT the right to visit detention facilities and investigate the treatment of those detained there.
Fink noted that the group received full cooperation from the Palestinian Authority to visit sites in the West Bank.
However, he added: “We regret that, despite all efforts, we were unable to visit detention facilities in Gaza.”
The SPT is made up of 25 independent and impartial experts from around the world who monitor compliance with the Optional Protocol.
The delegation is expected to submit a confidential report to the Palestinian Authority in the coming months.