US Report Criticizes Palestinian Security Forces

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released the US State Dept.’s annual report on human rights Thursday, criticizing Palestinian security forces for abusing detainees and restricting civil liberties.

The 2011 report’s sharpest criticism was leveled at the Hamas government which controls Gaza, but it also noted alleged violations by the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority and Israeli occupation in the West Bank.

It said the three most egregious violations across the occupied territories were arbitrary arrest and associated torture and abuse, restrictions on civil liberties, and government impunity in Gaza.

Among human rights problems under the Palestinian Authority, the report said, were the unlawful killing of an Israeli settler in Nablus and the abuse of detainees in overcrowded detention facilities.

"Corruption, although reduced from previous years, remained a problem," the report added.

It also noted that societal discrimination and abuse against women, discrimination against persons with disabilities, and child labor remained serious problems.

The report’s harshest criticism was focused on Gaza, where it accused Hamas security forces of killing, torturing, arbitrarily detaining, and harassing opponents, Fatah members, and other Palestinians with impunity.

Hamas also significantly restricted freedom of speech, religion, and movement of Gaza Strip residents and promoted gender discrimination against women, the report charged.

Israel, meanwhile, used excessive force against civilians, abused Palestinian detainees, and made improper use of security detention procedures and incommunicado detention. Its forces also demolished Palestinian property, limited freedom of expression and assembly, and placed severe restrictions on movement.

"The PA, Israeli, and Hamas authorities took minimal steps to address impunity or reduce abuses. There were reports that the IDF and Hamas did not adequately pursue investigations and disciplinary actions related to violations," the report said.

The US funds and equips the Israeli military as well as the Palestinian security services in the West Bank but has no relations with Hamas, which it considers a terrorist organization.

The annual report records the state of human rights around the world. It has been produced since the 1970s by US embassies and consulates with the assistance of human rights groups.

"These reports … make clear to governments around the world: We are watching and we are holding you accountable," Clinton told reporters Thursday. "And they make clear to citizens and activists everywhere: You are not alone. We are standing with you."

Amnesty Report

The State Dept.’s report came a day after Amnesty International accused Palestinian security forces of abusing detainees with impunity and using excessive force against demonstrators.

The London-based rights group issued its annual report Wednesday, accusing the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority and Hamas security forces of arbitrarily detaining each other’s supporters.

"In both areas, security forces tortured and otherwise ill-treated detainees with impunity; in Gaza, four detainees died in custody," an excerpt from Amnesty’s 2012 report explained.

The report also said women and girls continued to face discrimination in law and practice and to face gender-based violence, including murder, committed by male relatives.


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