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Begin Issues Orders to Refrain from Injuring Detainees During Questioning

September 16, 1977
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Premier Menachem Begin has issued instructions to the police, the secret service (Shin Bet) and prison administrations to refrain from inflicting physical injuries on detainees during their interrogations. The report, in Maariv, was confirmed by the Prime Minister’s Office today.

According to the report, Begin gave the orders to honor a promise he made to President Carter during a private talk at the White House last July, It was reported that the President had raised the matter of allegations that torture was often used by Israeli police and secret service agents in the interrogation process in the course of a discussion of general problems in the Middle East.

Begin was said to have responded that he did not believe that torture was practiced in Israeli prisons but because he was new in office he would look into the allegations and give specific instructions to refrain from any malpractice while questioning security prisoners.

According to the report, Begin urged the President not to publicize that aspect of their conversations lest it appear that Carter took the allegations seriously. The matter was kept secret for two months. But it emerged through a State Department response yesterday to allegations by the Swiss League of Human Rights that Israel was violating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights through such practices as torture and arbitrary arrests. A State Department spokesman said that in each case of such a complaint, the U.S. “discusses the matter at the highest political rank” with the country concerned.

The latest charges against Israel were contained in the report of a four-member group that visited the West Bank in July headed by Denis Payot, a Geneva lawyer who is president of the Swiss League of Human Rights. The report was made public at a press conference in Geneva but the charges have not been corroborated by any independent source. Payot is known to be pro-Arab. He serves as legal advisor to the PLO and the Iraqi delegation at Geneva.

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