1. The Committee considered the third periodic report of Israel
(CAT/C/54/Add.1) at its 495th and 498th meetings, on 20 and 21 November
2001 (CAT/C/SR.495 and 498), and adopted the following conclusions
2. The Committee
welcomes the third periodic report of Israel, due on 1 November
2000 and received on 15 March 2001. The report is in full conformity
with the guidelines of the Committee on the preparation of State
party periodic reports.
3. The Committee compliments the State party for ensuring periodicity
of reports in a timely fashion and welcomes the continuation of
a constructive dialogue with Israel.
4. The Committee
welcomes the following:
a) The September 1999 Supreme Court judgement in the case of Public
Committee against Torture in Israel v. the State of Israel
which held that the use of certain interrogation methods by the
Israel Security Agency (ISA) involving the use of "moderate physical
pressure", was illegal as it violated constitutional protection
of the individual's right to dignity.
b) The issuance by authorities of the Israeli Security Agency of
a directive to all personnel that the decision of the Court should
be strictly adhered to in all investigations conducted by the ISA.
c) That the Israeli Government has decided not to initiate legislation
that would authorize the use of physical means in interrogations
conducted by the police or ISA.
d) Israel's Supreme Court decision of April 2000 according to which
the continued detention of Lebanese detainees held in Israel which
did not constitute a threat to national security could not be authorized
and the subsequent release of many Lebanese detainees.
e) Israel's periodical contribution to the Voluntary Fund for Victims
f) The provision of real time judicial review of persons under detention
to the Supreme Court.
g) Since 1994, the responsibility for investigation of complaints
against the ISA has been transferred to the Ministry of Justice.
h) The creation of a judicial commission of inquiry into the October
2000 events, which had resulted in the death of 14 persons.
difficulties impeding the application
of the Convention
5. The Committee
is fully aware of the difficult situation of unrest faced by Israel,
particularly in the Occupied Territories, and understands its security
concerns. While recognizing the right of Israel to protect its citizens
from violence, it reiterates that no exceptional circumstances may
be invoked as justification of torture (art. 2.2 of the Convention).
Subjects of concern
6. The Committee
expresses concern about the following matters:
a) While acknowledging the importance of the September 1999 Supreme
Court decision, the Committee regrets certain consequences of it:
i) The ruling does not contain a definite prohibition of torture.
ii) The court prohibits the use of sleep deprivation for the purpose
of breaking the detainee, but stated that if it was merely incidental
to interrogation, it was not unlawful. In practice in cases of prolonged
interrogation, it will be impossible to distinguish between the
iii) The Court indicated that ISA interrogators who use physical
pressure in extreme circumstances (ticking bomb cases) might not
be criminally liable as they may be able to rely on the "defence
b) Despite the Israeli argument that all acts of torture, as defined
in article 1 of the Convention, are criminal offences under Israeli
law, the Committee remains unconvinced and reiterates its concern
that torture, as defined by the Convention, has not yet been incorporated
into domestic legislation.
c) Continuing allegations received concerning the use of interrogation
methods by the ISA against Palestinian detainees that were prohibited
by the September 1999 ruling of the Supreme Court.
d) Allegations of torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian minors,
in particular those detained in the Gush Etzion police station.
The difference in the definition of a child in Israel and in the
Occupied Territories is also a matter of concern. While under Israeli
law majority is attained at the age of 18, military order No. 132
defines a minor as someone under the age of 16. (In Israel, including
the Occupied Territories, no minors under the age of 12 years can
be held criminally responsible).
e) While noting a substantial decrease since the examination of
its previous report in the number of persons held in administrative
detention, the Committee continues to be concerned that administrative
detention does not conform with article 16 of the Convention.
f) The continued use of incommunicado detention even in the case
of children, is a matter of grave concern to the Committee.
g) Despite the numerous allegations of torture and ill-treatment
by law enforcement officials received by the Committee, very few
prosecutions have been taken against alleged perpetrators.
h) While noting that according to the Delegation any allegations
of physical violence against a detainee is always treated and investigated
as a criminal offence, the Committee is concerned that the Department
for the Investigation of Police Misconduct (DIPM) may decide that
a police officer or the ISA investigator should only be subject
to disciplinary action, in lieu of the criminal proceedings. This
may amount to a violation of article 7.1 of the Convention.
i) Israeli policies on closure which may, in certain instances,
amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (article
16 of the Convention).
j) Israeli policies on house demolitions, which may, in certain
instances, amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
(article 16 of the Convention).
k) The judicial practice of admitting objective evidence derived
from an inadmissible confession.
l) The Committee is also concerned at instances of "extra-judicial
killings" drawn to its attention.
7. The Committee makes the following recommendations:
a) The provisions of the Convention should be incorporated by legislation
into the domestic law of Israel, in particular a crime of torture
as defined in article 1 of the Convention should be enacted.
b) The practice of administrative detention in the Occupied Territories,
should be reviewed in order to ensure its conformity with article
c) The State party should review its laws and policies so as to
ensure that all detainees, without exception, are brought promptly
before a judge, and are ensured prompt access to a lawyer.
d) The State party should ensure that interrogation methods prohibited
by the convention are not utilized be either the police or the ISA
in any circumstances.
e) In view of the numerous allegations of torture and other ill
treatment by law enforcement personnel, the State party should take
all necessary effective steps to prevent the crime of torture and
other acts of cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,
and institute effective complaint, investigative and prosecution
mechanisms relating thereto.
f) All victims of torture and ill-treatment should be granted effective
access to appropriate rehabilitation and compensation measures.
g) The State party should desist from the policies of closure and
house demolition where they offend article 16 of the Convention.
h) The State party should intensify human rights education and training
activities, in particular concerning the Convention, for the ISA,
the Israel Defence Forces, police and medical doctors.
i) Necessity as a possible justification to the crime of torture
should be removed from the domestic law.
j) Such legislative measures as are necessary should be taken to
ensure the exclusion of not merely a confession extorted by torture
but also any evidence derived from such confession.
k) Israel should consider withdrawing its reservation to article
20 and declaring in favour of articles 21 and 22