Abusive System: Criminal Justice in Gaza, a new report from Human Rights Watch, documents violations by security services, including warrantless arrests, failure to inform families promptly of detainees’ whereabouts and subjecting detainees to torture.
According to the report, security forces in the Gaza Strip commit rampant abuses against Palestinian prisoners, including beatings with metal clubs and rubber hoses, mock executions and arbitrary arrests. Human Rights Watch urged Hamas to reform Gaza's criminal justice system so to end arbitrary arrests and ensure detainees have prompt access to lawyers.
Hamas' Internal Security agency, the drugs unit of the civil police force and police detectives, all torture detainees, in particular those who follow and some Islamic organizations which oppose Hamas political line. Human Rights said the Independent Commission for Human Rights, a non-partisan Palestinian rights group, reported receiving 147 complaints of torture by three Hamas agencies in 2011 alone.
The report added that many Palestinians who were tortured were too scared to complain, fearing retribution by Hamas. It also said hospital officials often refuse to release medical records of torture victims to avoid them being used as evidence.
Furthermore, the report also accused Hamas police of making random arrests without warrants and sometimes holding family members as a pressure tactic. People are often detained without charge and denied access to lawyers and family, according to Human Rights Watch.
It is worth mentioning that HRW's Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director of the New York-based rights group, said Hamas officials did not reply to his written questions, as he was not able meet the minister of justice and the director of internal security.
Stork also said that after five years of Hamas rule in Gaza, its criminal justice system reeks of injustice, routinely violates detainees’ rights and grants impunity to abusive security services.
However, the European Union condemned the use of capital punishment in the Gaza Strip and urged the Hamas government to refrain from executing prisoners.
A total of 14 Palestinians have been executed since the Islamist group Hamas seized Gaza Strip in 2007 from Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction.
Under Palestinian law, Abbas is supposed to have the final decision on whether executions are carried out, but Hamas runs its justice system without consulting the president.
International community as well as Human rights groups have repeatedly condemned the use of the death penalty in Gaza.
The report mentioned stories for many Gaza residents proving through images the signs of torturing on their bodies, besides the suffering of many families to know where there relatives are hidden since they have disappeared five years ago.
We thank all who participated in writing this report, to which I bear witness that every word written therein is true and there is no any exaggeration or lie in it.
I personally experienced violence from Hamas for no reason. As of today I do not know why Hamas attacked my house and took my personal computer, as well as some special belongings. That was in 2008, specifically in the late hours of the night.
Of course, I could not report this incident to the police, who are also relating to Hamas. I just let go, as I know in advance that I will not gain anything. Moreover I might suffer from problems that may reach to putting me in jail if I objected or filed a complaint.
Some of you may be shocked if I declared a shameful fact, which is, many Gazans had hoped Israel would destroy Hamas during its war on Gaza in 2008-2009. Hamas rule is as bad as Bashar al-Assad or Iran's regimes.
We can't deny that Hamas came to rule through elections, but after they won, they showed their ugly face. In other words, they deal with people in terms of "If you are not with us, you are against us."
Gazans still hope that International Community will give a hand to them in order to eliminate Hamas rule as soon as possible.