The ICJ publishes today “Inquiry into the Israeli Military Court System in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza”, a 74 page report of a mission to the Israeli occupied territories in June and July 1989.
The report gives a factual account of the justice system in the Occupied Territories, accompanied by conclusions and recommendations. In addition to attending trials in courts, the participants discussed procedures and problems with military judges, military prosecutors, and Palestinian defence lawyers involved in the observed proceedings, as well as representatives of the Quakers Legal Aid, the Israeli Association of Civil Rights, the Arab Lawyers Committee in the West Bank and the Gaza Bar Association, Arab defence lawyers, former detainees, and the staff of Al Haq, the West Bank affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists.
The following are the main conclusions and recommendations of the mission:
- the mission was deeply concerned about the continuing reports of mistreatment and torture during interrogation and the apparent desire to obtain ‘confessions’ from the accused. Such mistreatment or torture is a criminally sanctionable war crime;
- efforts should be increased to assure that mistreatment and torture does not occur;
- as under ordinary Israeli law, no person should be held without a judicial warrant or formal charges, or denied access to a court for more than 48 hours;
- the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) should be given the names and whereabouts of all detained persons within 48 hours and access to all detainees within 14 days;
- the removal of detained persons outside the Occupied Territories is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and should cease;
- all interrogation of suspects and all recording of ‘admissions’ or ‘confessions’ should be in a language they understand;
- the courts should require more corroboration of confessions;
- an accused person should be informed personally and promptly in writing in a language he understands of the particulars of the charges against him;
- there should be far earlier access by counsel to a detained person, counsel should be able to visit the detainee ‘freely’, and should have adequate time to prepare a defence;
- bail should be granted more freely, release on bail after three months should be common, and bail should not be fixed so high as effectively to deny bail.
The members of the mission were:
- Professor Jordan J. Paust, University of Houston Law Center, Houston, Texas,
- Dr. Gerhard von Glahn, Professor Emeritus in Political Science, University of Minnesota-Duluth, Minnesota, and
- Mr. Justice Günter Woratsch of the Federal Court of Appeals in Vienna, and President of the International Association of Judges.