PA security forces must end 'pattern of abuse'
Published Monday 23/09/2013 (updated) 26/09/2013 13:29
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority must stop using unnecessary and excessive force against demonstrators at protests, Amnesty International said in a briefing published Monday.
"Standards during the policing of demonstrations in the West Bank continue to fall woefully short of those prescribed by international law," said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director of Amnesty International.
"As a result, the rights to freedom of expression and assembly are being severely eroded."
The report said that PA police and security forces repeatedly carry out "unprovoked and unlawful" attacks against peaceful protesters with impunity.
On June 30 and July 1 last year, PA security forces and police attacked peaceful demonstrators protesting a meeting between President Abbas and an Israeli official.
At least five protesters required treatment and public outrage forced Abbas to announce an independent investigation to review the conduct of security forces.
Over a year later, the PA has yet to publish a full report of the review, although a summary of findings said that PA forces used "unnecessary", "unjustified" and "disproportionate" force against protesters.
"Despite the findings of the Independent Investigative Committee, the PA has not prosecuted any of its police or security forces for the violence they perpetrated against peaceful protesters and other unlawful conduct in Ramallah on 30 June and 1 July last year," said Philip Luther.
"Such impunity inevitably fosters further abuses, as evidenced by further incidents in which PA forces have used excessive force against protesters since mid-2012."
PA security forces have allegedly carried out violent attacks on peace protesters on at least four separate occasions in July and August 2013, Amnesty said.
PA forces have also been implicated in the deaths of two Palestinians in recent months. On May 8, Khaleda Kawazbeh died in unexplained circumstances during a PA police raid in the village of Sair, near Hebron, and eight others were injured.
On August 27, Amjad Odeh, 37, died after he was shot in the head, apparently by PA police, during a protest.
"The Palestinian Authority needs urgently to call an end to this pattern of abuse by its police and security forces and to break the cycle of impunity which fosters it," Philip Luther said.
Amnesty International also called on the EU, the USA and other donor governments that provide financial aid to train the PA's security forces to hold the PA leadership accountable for rights violations.