Palestine: Imad Abou Rizk Detained Incommunicado and Tortured by Palestinian Authority General Intelligence

 عماد أبو رزق Imad Abou Rizk

On 6 November 2016, Imad Abou Rizk, a 44-year-old sergeant in the Palestinian General Intelligence, was summoned to the investigation office of the General Intelligence in Ramallah and subsequently arrested and severely tortured. Currently detained incommunicado in the Military Intelligence prison of Aqabat Jaber, near Jericho, Rizk recently started a hunger strike to protest against his detention and mistreatment. Concerned about the gravity of the violations, on 6 February 2017, Alkarama submitted his case to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), demanding the UN experts to call upon the Palestinian authorities to release him and investigate all allegations of torture.

No explanation or arrest mandate was provided to Rizk when on 6 November 2016 at 10.30 am, he was summoned to the investigation office of the General Intelligence in Ramallah, where he usually works. Immediately transferred to the Military Intelligence prison in Aqabat Jaber, Jericho governorate, he was then informally told that he was under arrest for having leaked intelligence information and for having ties with Palestinian Legislative Council member Kamal Al Tirawi, himself close to Mohammad Dahlan.

After he was brought to the Military Intelligence prison, Rizk was interrogated about suspected ties with MP Al Tirawi, by officers who severely tortured him. Beaten, threatened to be killed, forced to stand on a small box for hours in a painful position, suspended by a rope attached to his wrists tied behind his back, he refused to confess to any alleged crime. It is only a week after his arrest that he was allowed to call his wife for the first time. On 10 January 2017, to protest against his conditions of detention, Rizk started a hunger strike. In retaliation, the authorities have since denied him the right to contact his wife. As his health condition has been deteriorating, Rizk already suffers from diabetes and kidney failure; he has been hospitalised in Jericho hospital several times.

Three months after his arrest, Rizk has not yet been brought before a judicial authority and his lawyer, who was never allowed to visit him in detention, withdrew from his case fearing reprisals, leaving him without any legal defence.

“We are extremely concerned over Rizk’s allegations of torture and his arbitrary detention,” comments Inès Osman, Regional Legal Officer responsible for Palestine at Alkarama. “Torture and arbitrary detention are prohibited by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture (UNCAT) which Palestine ratified in April 2014, she added. It is important to know that these prohibitions can never be violated. Palestinian authorities have to respect their international legal obligations at all times, whatever the accusations may be, and must now put an end to Rizk’s arbitrary detention and open an independent investigation into the allegations of torture he raised.”

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