U.N.- Israel's torture ban leaves legal loopholes

Saturday, November 24, 2001

GENEVA -- A 1999 Israeli Supreme Court ban on torture left loopholes that have let interrogators use force to extract confessions, a United Nations committee said Friday.

"The ruling did not contain a definite prohibition on torture," said Peter Burns, chairman of the 10-member U.N. Committee against Torture. He called on Israeli lawmakers to close the legal gaps by enacting an explicit ban on all forms of torture.

The supreme court ban did not stop interrogators from relying on the "defense of necessity," allowing them to use questionable methods when they need to extract information quickly from suspects who may have knowledge of an impending attack, Burns said.

U.N. panel cites torture problem in Indonesia

GENEVA -- Indonesia's military and police are getting away with torture because victims are afraid to complain or fail to get a fair hearing, a U.N. committee said Friday.

The U.N. Committee Against Torture said it was concerned by a large number of alleged acts of torture and mistreatment, including sexual violence, committed by police and paramilitary groups tied to authorities.

Suspects benefit from a "climate of impunity" because there was little progress bringing them to trial, particularly senior officials, the panel of 10 human rights experts said.

Indonesian officials told the committee that several members of the security forces, including high-ranking ones, have been sentenced for human rights abuses.

Poles find mass graves at former Nazi camp

WARSAW, Poland -- Polish researchers said Friday that they have discovered mass graves at Sobibor, a death camp in eastern Poland that was razed by the Nazis after inmates staged an uprising.

Seven mass graves and the sites where several buildings stood were found, said Andrzej Kola, an archaeology professor supervising what he said was the first thorough study of the former camp.

The Nazis, who built the camp in occupied Poland in 1942, razed it in 1943 after an uprising in which inmates killed nine guards and tried to flee.

Three hundred Jews escaped from the camp, but dozens of them were killed in a surrounding mine field and most of the rest were hunted down over subsequent days.

Russian pledge to limit oil exports disappoints

MOSCOW -- A pledge from Russia to reduce its daily oil exports by less than 1 percent disappointed the world's other leading petroleum producers, which had hoped for a cut three times as large to help stabilize falling prices.

The government of the world's second-largest oil producing nation said Friday that companies would trim output by a mere 50,000 barrels a day for the remainder of the year.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has implored Russia to join other nonmember nations such as Mexico and Norway in making larger cuts to help shore up prices, which have plummeted nearly 30 percent in the past two months.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko made the announcement following a meeting with the leaders of the largest Russian oil companies. He said a decision on further production plans for 2002 would be made in December.

--From wire reports

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