In March 2008 the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel released “Family Matters: The Use of Family Members in Interrogation.” It described a common practice in ISA interrogations: applying pressure upon an interrogee by using their family members to cause them grave distress and psychological suffering and extract a confession from them.
In that report we presented a series of cases in which interrogators made their interrogees believe that the liberty or safety of their family members was in danger – which could be resolved if they confessed. The interrogee could be presented with this false scenario in various ways: threats to deprive the liberty or safety of their relative; bringing the interrogee’s relatives to the detention center by some means and displaying them as if detained; or bringing the arrest or abuse of a family member to the interrogee’s attention.
The current report, which updates the 2008 report, shows that the use of these methods continues and some remain very common – in violation of the Attorney General’s declarations and rulings of the High Court of Justice.
The report’s first section explains the current judicial policy as it stands after the HCJ Sweti decision which adopted the Attorney General’s stance forbidding the use of family members in interrogation. Its second portion provides examples of the methods allowed by this policy. A third section shows that even methods explicitly outlawed under HCJ Sweti – explicit threats to harm family members – remain routine practice. It concludes briefly with an account of the grave consequences of psychological torture generally, especially the use of family members.