Oct. 21, 1999
Vol. 19 No. 3

current issue
archive / search

    Human Rights Program will hold panel discussion on torture

    By William Harms
    News Office

    The Human Rights Program at the Center for International Studies will hold a panel discussion on a recent Israeli High Court decision outlawing torture. The talk will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, in the Pick Hall Lounge.

    The speakers for this event will be:

    • Ruchama Marton, a Visiting Human Rights Activist Fellow in the Human Rights Program and founder and chairwoman of Physicians for Human Rights, Israel
    • Robert Kirschner, Clinical Associate in Pathology and Pediatrics at the University and former senior forensic consultant, International Forensic Program, Physicians for Human Rights
    • Jonathan Rothstein, a Chicago lawyer representing an American citizen of Palestinian descent who was imprisoned and interrogated in Israel

    “Dr. Marton will talk about the background of the decision and the human rights situation in Israel,” Kirschner said. “I will talk about the methodology of torture in Israel, and Mr. Rothstein will discuss the legal implications of the case.”

    Kirschner prepared two affidavits regarding violent shaking as a form of torture for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. The association was among the petitioners in a recent case that led to a unanimous decision that methods used by the General Security Service to interrogate Palestinian prisoners are illegal.

    “I’ve done quite a bit of work with child abuse cases and with shaken babies in particular,” Kirschner said. “I wrote in the affidavits that injuries caused by shaking prisoners in Israel are analogous to injuries babies receive from being shaken. One prisoner has actually died as a result of the shaking.”

    Under the High Court decision, practices such as shaking, tying prisoners in painful positions and sleep deprivation were outlawed.

    Jacqueline Bhabha, Director of the Human Rights Program, said, “This decision was a victory for human rights, and it is worth celebrating.

    “This meeting is also very important because it shows the links that can be made between different types of expertise in the pursuit of human rights,” she added. “It also demonstrates the connections between the United States and Israel over these issues, because the person Mr. Rothstein is representing has been charged in the United States based on information that was forced from him during an interrogation in Israel.”