Wednesday July 23rd 2014

Human Rights Watch Sets Sights on PA Brutality

by Mahmoud Abu Ghosh

Human Rights Watch rebuked the Western-backed Palestinian Authority on Monday for failing to prosecute members of its American-trained security forces over years of alleged brutality against Fatah’s political opponents.

Those victimized by PA forces have included protesters, journalists and detainees.

HRW called on the United States and European Union, who fund the Fatah-led PA, to reevaluate their aid, given what it called this “record of impunity”.

“The EU and US should take a hard look… and condition support for those forces on credible investigations and prosecutions of abuses,” he added.

The Palestinian Authority rejected the allegations.

A spokesman for the PA security forces denied HRW’s claim that no personnel had been prosecuted in recent years. Without citing specific cases, he said military courts and the office of the attorney general were pursuing cases of alleged abuse.

“We don’t believe [HRW] has done a thorough investigation…. The PA has greater transparency than Human Rights Watch and the United States,” PA spokesman Adnan Damiri said.

A PA security sweep of officers suspected of corruption and armed criminals has netted dozens of suspects, some of whom have been detained for months awaiting trial, officials say.

Millions of dollars in Western aid and training to PA forces have contributed to the persecution of Fatah’s political opponents in recent years, especially those hostile to America’s Middle East agenda.

A growing number of Palestinians say the aid props up a government with no electoral mandate or real sovereignty but heavy-handed security methods.

In late June and early July, uniformed and plainclothes PA forces brutally attacked scores of Palestinian demonstrators marching to the compound of PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Several of those present, including a Reuters cameraman, were manhandled, punched and struck with batons, resulting in four arrests, several injuries that required hospital treatment and broad concern among Palestinians at the PA’s use of force.