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UN panel urges Zambia, Israel to better implement anti-torture treaty

UN panel urges Zambia, Israel to better implement anti-torture treaty

A United Nations expert panel today completed its review of efforts by Zambia and Israel to implement a key international treaty against torture, recommending that both countries improve certain procedures to be more in line with the accord's provisions.

Wrapping up its two-week autumn session, the Geneva-based Committee against Torture called on Zambia to address impunity for acts of maltreatment, including the adoption of a crime of torture with appropriate penalties. The Government should also undertake measures to ensure a systematic review of interrogation methods while strengthening training on the prohibition of torture for law-enforcement personnel and establishing programmes to prevent and combat violence against women, including domestic violence, experts said.

The Committed cited several positive developments as well, including the Government's recent legal prohibition of corporal punishment and its creation of a human rights commission.

Concerning Israel, the Committee called for the Government to prevent abuses by law-enforcement personnel and to institute effective complaint and investigative mechanisms. The panel also sought a review of the practice of administrative detention in the occupied territories to ensure its conformity with the Convention as well as a review of laws and policies to ensure that all detainees, without exception, were brought promptly before a judge and were ensured quick access to lawyers. The panel also called for an end to policies of closure and house demolition where they were in contradiction to the treaty. It also urged the removal from domestic law of a provision that necessity could be used as a possible justification for torture.

Experts welcomed a 1999 Supreme Court judgement holding that the use of certain interrogation methods by the Israel Security Agency involving the use of "moderate physical pressure" was illegal. It also lauded a 2000 Supreme Court decision that led to the release of many Lebanese detainees on the grounds that they did not constitute a threat to national security.

The Committee, which is comprised of 10 members appointed in their individual capacities by States Parties to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, monitors the treaty's implementation.