Special commission seeks justice for death of Palestinian activist under custody of PA security forces
Ramallah - The family of Palestinian dissident Nizar Banat, who had died in custody in June, announced on Tuesday the formation of a special commission to demand justice, along with a number of figures from the Palestinian civil society.
The commission's members, who include Ghassan Banat, Nizar's brother, made the announcement at a press conference in Ramallah.
Ghassan Banat told the media that “the decision to form such a commission came after a series of attempts, by Palestinian officials, to pressure the family into accepting a tribal settlement [i.e. an indemnity] [...] in exchange for dropping the case in court.”
According to Ghassan, the family has received financial offers to solve Nizar’s case as a dispute with the families of the 14 Palestinian security members currently being tried for his death.
Nizar Banat was a political activist and a harsh critic of the Palestinian Authority (PA). He was also a candidate in the Palestinian legislative elections that were supposed to take place in May but were subsequently deferred.
He died in June, while he was under the custody of Palestinian security forces in Hebron. The reasons behind his arrest are still disputed.
His death sparked a wave of protests against the PA in the West Bank, demanding justice for his death.
The protests sparked by Nizar Banat’s assassination are not just against the PA’s authoritarianism. We are protesting the disease of which “authoritarian” is merely a symptom: US and Israeli interventions—even inventions—that “rebuilt” PA security forces to behave this way 2/— Mohammed El-Kurd (@m7mdkurd) August 26, 2021
In early July, the PA arrested 14 members of its own security forces and charged them with provoking the death of Nizar Banat. Local authorities decided to act following the publication of the autopsy findings, which proved that Banat had been brutally beaten and that an internal bleeding had cased his death.
There have been 11 hearings on the case but the 14 security members have remained silent in court. The next session is scheduled on December 26. The Banat family continues to demand an independent investigation into Nizar's case.
“We affirmed it and we do it again, that Nizar does not belong to his family alone, but to the entire Palestinian people,” said Ghassan Banat. “He struggled with his spoken word for the freedom and rights of Palestinians, and Palestinians altogether should therefore demand justice for his death,” he added.
Turning to international courts?
Dr. Mamdouh al-Aker, a renowned academic and member of the newly-established committee, said that “the commission was formed in response to the call of Nizar Banat’s family to protect his case and follow up in courts until justice is delivered.”
Al-Aker underlined that “to the commission, the 14 members of the Palestinian security forces are only the executors of Nizar’s death, and responsibility is shared with those who gave the orders. We demand that they are held accountable.”
He noted that “the commission will also follow-up on the case of Nizar Banat’s death in international courts. It relies on a team of lawyers and jurists who will explore all possibilities, should Palestinian courts fail to deliver justice.”