Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI)

Introduction

PCATI regularly circulates unverifiable allegations of Israeli torture, using them as the basis for campaigns of demonization in international forums.

Profile

Country/TerritoryIsrael
Websitehttp://www.stoptorture.org.il/
Founded1990, based in Jerusalem.
In their own wordsClaims to “advocate[] for all persons - Israelis, Palestinians, labor immigrants and other foreigners in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) – in order to protect them from torture and ill treatment by the Israeli interrogation and law enforcement authorities.”

Funding

Activities

  • Regularly circulates unverifiable allegations of Israeli torture, using them as the basis for campaigns in international forums and Israeli courts.
  • In June 2020, Executive Director of PCATI Rachel Stroumsa participated in a webinar titled “A Travesty of Justice: Palestinian Child Prisoners and Israeli Military Justice” that discussed the “role and impact of military justice on Palestinians and its function in Israel’s occupation.” The webinar contained multiple distortions and omissions. See the NGO Campaign to Exploit Children’s Rights for more information.
  • In October 2019, PCATI sent a letter to Hadassah Hospital “urging the institution not to release Samer Arbid for continued ISA interrogation for fear he would be subjected to torture.”
    • Samer Arbid is currently on trial for commanding the PFLP terror cell that carried out the murder of Rena Shnerb. According to the indictment against him (on file), Arbid prepared and detonated the explosive device. In August 2020, the PFLP published a statement referring to Arbid as a “prisoner and commander” and “one of the heroes of the Bubeen operation” – referring to the August 2019 bombing.
  • In May 2015, PCATI contributed information to the United Nations Human Rights Councils Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza War. According to the UN, PCATI made allegations regarding the “torture and ill-treatment of adults and children.”
  • Published a statement, “Childhood is not a Privilege but a Right!,” inaccurately alleging that Israeli authorities place Palestinian “prisoners in iron cages (including children)” (emphasis added) (originally published December 31, 2013; revised January 8, 2014).
  • Issued a June 2013 joint statement with other politicized NGOs Adalah and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, in light of “UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture,” alleging that “Impunity and a lack of accountability continue to characterise the relationship of Israel’s security services with civilians” and maintaining ongoing “torture-related policies and practices against Palestinian prisoners and detainees.”
  • Co-authored a 2011 report, “Doctoring the Evidence, Abandoning the Victim,” together with Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, claiming to “reveal… significant evidence arousing the suspicion that many doctors ignore the complaints of their patients; that they allow Israel Security Agency interrogators to use torture; approve the use of forbidden interrogation methods and the ill-treatment of helpless detainees; and conceal information, thereby allowing total impunity for the torturers.” The report utilizes unreliable sources, including “testimonies” from individuals convicted or suspected of security offenses and terrorism; presents inconsistent recommendations; erases the context of terrorism in the actions of security forces; and does not provide a lexical, legal, or consistent definition for the key terms “torture” and “ill-treatment.”
  • On July 7, 2009 PCATI attorney Majd Bader testified before the UN Goldstone Commission, where he claimed Israel held Palestinian detainees in ditches. In his testimony, Bader also referred to Palestinian “martyrs” and to Israeli “collective punishment.”
  • In May 2009, testified (together with OMCT) at the UN’s Committee Against Torture, where it accused Israel of “deliberate and indiscriminate” attacks on “civilians and civilian objects.”  The NGO openly admits that these topics “do not per se fall under the [Torture] Convention.”
  • PCATI’s activities regularly extend far beyond the specifics of its mission statement, such as signing onto NGO petitions wholly unrelated to torture.
  • Signed a 2009 petition submitted to the Spanish government opposing the “resolution that limits the exercise of universal jurisdiction of the Spanish courts.” The resolution was introduced in the Spanish parliament following lawfare cases against several foreign nationals, including Israeli officials.
  • CEO Dr. Yishai Menuhin, previously the spokesperson for Yesh Gvul and a Hadash party candidate for the 17th Knesset, wrote, “if war crimes suspicions are not investigated in Israel, it is appropriate that they be investigated and that justice be served with their perpetrators in different courts.”

Partners

Foreign donations (amounts in NIS)

2018-2021 amounts based on financial reports submitted to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits

Donor2021202020192018
UNVFVT (UN)131,088145,200145,200140,400
Dignity (Danish Institute Against Torture)179,106247,701392,998
UNDP
Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands)*
Turkish Human Rights Foundation99,698384,071525,487
Germany74,280
Netherlands114,438
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
UN OCHA
UN Habitat112,659
Denmark72,245352,726689,181363,616
Netherlands74,280126,230114,438
FIDH43,774

* *Until 2014, NDC managed the pooled finances of Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands through its Human Rights/Good Governance program; In 2014, NDC was replaced by NIRAS and Birzeit University, which are managing the government funding under the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat.

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