Marking the International Day in
Support of Victims of Torture, celebrated each year on the 26 June, Gaza
Community Mental Health Programme has held a workshop to review together with partner
organizations and stakeholders the achievements and challenges in supporting torture
The workshop which carried the title “The Reality of Psychosocial
And Legal Services Provided for Torture Survivors from the Perspective of NGOS”,
included presentations of different papers provided by legal, human rights and
mental health experts.
In the opening speech, Dr Yasser Abu Jamei, Director General of
GCMHP, spoke of the international definition of torture, the justifications
under which it is practised.
“Torture aims at destroying the personality of the victim,” Abu
Jamei said. “Iben Khaldun said more than
200 years ago that: Usually, the oppressed follow in the footsteps of the oppressor,
” Dr Abu Jamei added, quoting the famous Arab sociologist in his explanation of
how torture impact the individual and the community as a whole.
In the first presentation
session, psychologist Hasan Ziyadah presented GCMHP’s paper which carried the title,
"The Reality of Psychological and Social Services Provided for
Victims". The paper provided a revision of GCMHP’s experience and
interventions with victims of torture since the establishment of the
organization in 1990 and during a variety of sociopolitical contexts over 33
years. He also talked about the comprehensive nature of psychological treatment
and rehabilitation services and the efforts exerted in this framework by
presenting cases that have benefited from GCMHP’s services. In addition he
explained the serious role played by GCMHP in dealing with torture.
Then, lawyer, Mr. Sharif Abu
Nassar, a lawyer from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights presented a paper
about the "Legal Services for Victims and Survivors of Torture", in
which he explained the role of the Center in dealing with victims, following up
and documenting torture complaints. His paper also provided an overview of the
international conventions and protocols against torture that have signed by the
State of Palestine.
The paper also included an
explanation of the challenges that service providers face in documenting the
real number of torture cases due to the difficulty of disclosing them,
explaining that the reason for this is that sometimes the victims are subjected
to more torture if they file a complaint. “I wonder where the rule of law is, and
to what extent it is enforced,” he said.
In the second session Mr Bakr
Al-Turkmani, Coordinator of Investigations and Complaints at the Independent
Commission for Human Rights, presented a paper entitled, "The Role of
Civil Institutions in Reporting Torture, and Legal Prosecutions", which
reviewed the challenges related to accountability, and the independence of the parties
involved in accountability. The paper also clarified the role of the Commission
in monitoring torture incidents through a number of mechanisms such as surprise visits
to detention centers, and confidential individual interviews with detainees to
ensure that they are not subjected to torture, in addition to closely following
The last paper entitled
"The Reality of Rehabilitation Services Provided to Survivors of
Torture", was presented via video conference from the West Bank by Mr
Murad Bustami, from the Center for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Victims
of Torture. His paper provided information about a number of challenges that
affect the process of rehabilitation and integration of survivors of torture,
real cases of victims who were subjected to various methods of torture.
The last session was allocated
for discussion between the audience and the panelists and presenting the
recommendations which are listed as follows:
The official authorities should
continue to issue clear instructions to the security services to NOT to practise
torture or mal-treatment in during arrest, custody or investigation.
The recommendations of the
United Nations Committee Against Torture, which it made as a comment on the report of the State of
Palestine, submitted to discussed in July 2022.
Serious effort must be done to amend the decree-law related to the
establishment of the national anti-torture mechanism, in order to make it
compatible with the general principles referred to in the protocol attached to
the Convention against Torture, especially with regard to the financial and
administrative independency of the mechanism.
There is a need for developing
tools for detecting and investigating crimes of torture, and building the
skills of those using them, with the aim of reaching the perpetrators of crimes
according to scientific bases, voluntarily, and without coercion, torture, or
Training the personnel in
charged of law enforcement and those whose responsibility is to resolve family feuds
to use peaceful means and NOT to touch the physical integrity of the conflict
Improving the conditions of the
custody places, especially the police custody, and treating the people held
there with dignity and provide them with medical services in accordance with
Reinforcing accountability by
bringing to account anyone proved to be involved in abusing prisoners or people
in custody through administrative and civil measures, while providing any necessary
psychological and physical rehabilitation for the affected.
The Public Prosecution needs to conduct
serious investigations into citizens' claims of having their physical integrity
abused by law enforcement officials.
The judiciary and the Public
Prosecution must conduct thorough investigations into the testimonies and
information provided to them by members of the judicial police in the various
security agencies before deciding to hold any person in custody.
The judiciary and the Public
Prosecution must play their monitoring role over all civilian places of
detention, to ensure that detainees are not subjected to torture, ill-treatment
or self-inflicted acts, and to investigate cases that indicate that detainees
have been subjected to any form of torture and/or ill-treatment.
Lobbying the concerned
authorities to expedite the establishment of a specialized hospital for providing
treatment from addiction.
There must be close coordination
between human rights organizations and non-governmental mental health
organizations as well as the relevant official specialized departments to
provide an integrated psychological service for those for the victims of
Lobbying the law enforcement
departments to establish a mental health fitness test for the new recruits,
while also testing them while they are attending to their work in the prisons.