December 4, 2008 / 9:24 AM / 10 years ago

TEXT-Response of Palestinian govt to torture claims

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Following is translated text of the response from spokesman’s office of Palestinian Authority government to questions from Reuters about allegations that suspected Hamas activists have been subjected to arbitrary detention and torture in the West Bank.

"Political detention is defined as the detention of a political figure because of his or her activity. But the prisons of the Palestinian security forces are empty of such figures.

"We emphasise that the security forces are doing their job the best they can, driven by the knowledge that the safety and security of our citizens is of utmost importance. The security forces are doing their job despite the hurdles we face in terms of the (Israeli) occupation and the Hamas movement, which is violating the rights of Palestinians in Gaza under the watchful eyes of both the media, which Hamas allows to operate, as well as locals who witness those crimes, which bring to mind the crimes of the occupying army.

"We insist that the legal and security motives which drive the work of the security forces are respected by all, since it is their duty to provide security that is essential to the continuation of our people’s struggle under occupation. The occupation is not interested in having us succeed in Hebron, where it is demanding that we withdraw our security men.

"As for torture, we stress that the matter is being exaggerated and is totally untrue. And we remind you that two detainees held by the intelligence services in Hebron recently held a press conference in order to prove that allegations that they had been tortured and mistreated during detention were false. We also stress that torture is not practised by our security forces and is neither institutionalised nor sanctioned —- we are determined to banish torture and we do not sanction it if and when it happens. We also remind you that interrogation is a natural part of any detention or arrest and it is our duty to let the security forces do their job.

"For those who are circulating these rumours we say: ‘Don’t you want the security forces to do their job? Why don’t you want that? Or do you want the security forces to do a partial job, as the occupation wishes? Don’t you want to see criminals and those who jeopardise the security of our country behind bars?

"We believe that truth will prevail and that the security forces will continue to improve day by day, something we should all encourage."

(Editing by Samia Nakhoul)

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