A man does not torture another man

This week, our chief legal counsel Dan Yakir, was interviewed on the TV program “London et Kirschenbaum” (link in Hebrew) about the serious allegations of torture against the suspects in the murder of the Palestinian family in Duma. Dan coined the term “a man does not torture another man.” In reality, we find ourselves explaining again and again why torture is prohibited. The obvious fact that torture is a tool of dark regimes and not consistent with democracy, has almost become a minority opinion.


Who is being investigated this time? People suspected of setting fire to a house with people inside at night; whose hatred led them to murder a one and a half year old baby and both his parents, and severely wound another child. Obviously we all want to see the perpetrators of this terrorist act behind bars, but it seems that some people have forgotten that not all means to achieving this goal are acceptable. A democratic, freedom-loving society does not accept that investigators can use any means possible in order to uncover the truth.


Reports by the suspects’ attorneys concerning Israel’s Internal security agency’s (the Shin Bet) investigation raise grave concerns that illegal interrogation methods were used, such as the use of physical force and sleep deprivation. These methods were rejected by the High Court of Justice in 1999 (link in Hebrew) following a petition that was submitted by ACRI, The Committee Against Torture and HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual; and was based in part on reports by B’Tselem.


“A reasonable investigation is an investigation without torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of the suspect”, said the President of the Supreme Court Aharon Barak at the time. “We can conduct an effective investigation without resorting to violence. It is sometimes necessary, and permitted according to the law, to employ specific strategies and sophisticated techniques, that the Shin Bet and police already use today. Such investigations, that are permitted in the most civilized countries, can be effective in achieving their goals.”


Upon publications of the alleged torture in the news, ACRI called on the Ministry of Justice to immediately examine the complaints filed against the Shin Bet. Ironically, we received positive encouragement about this from the same audience who had recently considered us to be ‘agents’ and traitors. ACRI’s approach has always been the same. We are opposed to administrative detention and we are absolutely opposed to torture. Often the victims of these draconian methods of operation are Palestinian. This time the terror suspects are Jewish.


Here is more from the verdict: “Sometimes, democracy must fight with one hand tied behind its back. Nevertheless, democracy has the upper hand, since preserving the rule of law and individual liberties are important components of security. At the end of the day, they strengthen the spirit and power of democracy and allow for difficulties to be overcome.”

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Categories: Democracy and Civil Liberties, Police and Security Guards

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