The case in front of you concerns a Palestinian woman arrested and interrogated by the ISA in 2009. During the interrogation she underwent physical torture, including painful shackling, sleep deprivation, and threats of having her family members interrogated. In addition, she was sexually harassed: one interrogator placed hand on her leg, one kissed her on the forehead and called it “a kiss our of respect”, due to the fact that she is “well-liked”. The sexual harassment and the other means employed were part of a deliberate attempt by the interrogators to elicit a confession.
With great courage, this woman decided to present a complaint with PCATI’s help. The complaint was closed with no criminal investigation, and PCATI appealed the closure decision. In September 2017, seven years after we first presented the complaint and 18 months after the appeal we received an answer. The appeal was rejected and the file closed, with this the explanation: according to the interrogator, “as far as what was said to the complainant regarding her external appearance, this was not said as a compliment, but as a relevant part of the ongoing investigation.” In addition, Ministry of Justice took issue with the fact that the complaint was presented in March 2012, one year and eight months after the interrogation. “The delay in presenting the complaint seems prima facie to dull to some extent the degree of interest your client felt in having her claims checked.”
PCATI is of course appalled at the suggestion that a woman’s appearance is relevant to any interrogation, and that a delay in presenting such a sensitive complaint has any implications as to the degree of interest held by the victim. It is important to note also that complaints regarding sexual harassment are often presented a while after the event, both because of the initial trauma and because of the need to summon sufficient courage to present such a complaint.
Complaint to the Attorney General regarding: Imprisonment and Interrogation of Women by the Israeli Security Agency (5.3.2012)
Answer to the complaint 8.7.2015
Brief from International Law Expert Fionnuala Ni Aolain as Amicus Curiae in Support of theappeal
Answer to the Appeal from the Deputy State Attorney 31.8.2017