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Security forces 'abuse detainees with impunity'

May 24, 2012 3:15 P.M. (Updated: May 24, 2012 9:40 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian security forces in the West Bank and Gaza abuse detainees with impunity and use excessive force against demonstrators, Amnesty International said Wednesday.

The London-based rights group issued its annual report, and accused the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority and Hamas security forces of arbitrarily detaining each other's supporters.

"In both areas, security forces tortured and otherwise ill-treated detainees with impunity; in Gaza, four detainees died in custody," an excerpt from Amnesty's 2012 report explained.

"Detainees were tortured and otherwise ill-treated, particularly by Preventive Security and the General Intelligence Service in the West Bank, and by Internal Security in Gaza, all of which were able to abuse detainees with impunity."

Alleged methods included beatings, suspension by the wrists or ankles, and enforced standing or sitting in painful positions for long periods, according to the Independent Commission for Human Rights.

The commission recorded 1,000 complaints of arbitrary arrests in the West Bank and more than 700 in Gaza. It said many of the PA's arrests occurred when President Mahmoud Abbas visited the UN in September.

In Gaza, Hamas security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained hundreds of suspected Fatah supporters, usually holding them without access to lawyers and often mistreating them. Four people died in custody in suspicious circumstances.

Both the PA and Hamas maintained tight controls on freedom of expression, association and assembly.

They harassed and prosecuted journalists, bloggers and other critics, and in March 2011 used excessive force against demonstrators calling for national unity, arresting scores of people.

In Gaza, at least eight people were sentenced to death and three people were executed, while one person was sentenced to death in the West Bank, the report noted.

Gender-based violence

The group said women and girls continued to face discrimination in law and practice and to face gender-based violence, including murder, committed by male relatives.

Human rights groups in Gaza confirmed that a woman was a victim of a so-called honor killing in December.

In May 2011, police identified the body of 20-year-old Ayat Ibrahim Baradiyya, which had been dumped in a well near Hebron over a year earlier after she was murdered by her uncle in the name of honor.

Later in May, in response to the outcry over the case, President Abbas repealed all legal provisions that had allowed men to obtain reduced sentences for murders committed in the name of honor.
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