Israel Reaction to the Conclusions of the Committee Against Torture

(Communicated by the Israel Foreign Ministry)
May 18, 1998

Israel expresses surprise and disappointment at the conclusions of the Committee against Torture, published today after the Committee discussions of the Israeli Second Periodic Report on the Implementation of the Convention against Torture.

These conclusions are in broad substance a repetition of last year’s remarks. At the same time, Israel notes with satisfaction the change for the better in tone, the dropping of certain allegations and the praise of Israel for deepening the dialogue with the Committee, as well as for certain internal reforms, such as the creation of the office of the Public Defender, ministerial review of aspects of the General Security Services’ work, etc.

In its presentation before the Committee on Friday, 15 May 1998, Israel explained in an open, detailed and extremely frank manner, that Israeli law totally prohibits the use of torture or procedures amounting thereto in any circumstances. It is also indicated that the High Court of Israel supervises in real time all activities of Israel’s law enforcement authorities with a view to ensuring that interrogation procedures and general treatment of detainees remain within permitted guidelines, in conformity with the law.

In its statement to the Committee, Israel also outlined the agonising dilemma of having to seek information from terrorist suspects on planned and impending acts of terrorism, including suicide bombings, in order to prevent such events and thereby save human lives, while at the same time fully implementing human rights norms, including those in the Convention against Torture.

Israel has nothing to hide on this issue, and has cooperated extensively with the Committee, responding to all questions asked and offering wide-ranging information. Israel has hoped that the Committee would utilise the opportunity of the review process to enter into a substantive dialogue with Israel, rather than to make arbitrary determinations, without regard to the authoritative testimony submitted to it.