Rights group slams Palestinian Authority over activist death
JERUSALEM (AP) — Amnesty International said Friday that the Palestinian Authority has failed to hold its security forces accountable for the death of an activist in police custody a year ago.
The family of Nizar Banat, a prominent critic of the PA, says security forces stormed his residence in the middle of the night and beat him with metal batons. His death sparked weeks of protests against the PA, which governs parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, some of which were violently dispersed.
Palestinian authorities arrested 14 officers last summer and are trying them in a military court, but have taken no action against top commanders. Amnesty said the 14 were allowed a “holiday” from detention running from June 21 until July 2.
“The flawed military trial of 14 low-ranking security officers will not bring about justice,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty’s regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“There needs to be a civilian trial following international standards, not just a smokescreen to protect those higher up,” she said.
Three Palestinian officials declined requests for comment on the Amnesty statement.
Amnesty cited Ghandi al-Rabi, a lawyer for the Banat family, as saying they had completely withdrawn from the trial on May 18 because they lost trust in the proceedings. It said they are preparing a case for civilian courts instead.
Rights groups say both the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority and the Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, use torture and arbitrary detention to silence critics.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called off the first elections in 15 years in April 2021 when it appeared his increasingly fractured Fatah party was heading for defeat. Recent polls have shown that nearly 80% of Palestinians want him to resign.