PA yet to effectively investigate Palestinian activist's death two years on, says Amnesty
Banat, a well-known critic of the Palestinian Authority, was beaten with batons by security forces who raided the house he was staying in.
They took him away in a military vehicle and he passed away about an hour later while being transported to hospital. Demonstrators protesting against his death were met with repression.
The current trial of 14 officers charged in connection to Banat's arrest has "made a mockery of impartiality and fairness", Amnesty said in a press release, adding that the next hearing was set for Monday at a Ramallah military court.
"Two years ago, Nizar Banat was arrested and beaten to death while being held in the custody of the Palestinian security forces," said Amnesty's Middle East regional director Heba Morayef.
"Since that time the authorities have failed to hold to account those responsible for his arrest and assault.
"The repeated, unjustified delays, the failure to investigate senior officers, and the ongoing campaign of intimidation and harassment against Nizar Banat's family members all point to an orchestrated ploy by the Palestinian authorities to cover up the crime and evade accountability."
Amnesty said 14 low-ranking officers were charged over Banat's death but no senior officers were questioned or investigated.
"The trial of these officers has been held before military courts which are known for their inherent lack of impartiality and independence," the rights group said.
"Under human rights law standards, military courts should restrict their jurisdiction to that of military offences by military personnel."
Amnesty called for Banat's case to be referred to a civilian court in the interests of transparency and impartiality.
The rights group also said the activist's family has been harassed for continuing to seek justice.
"Several outspoken family members have been repeatedly arbitrarily detained on spurious grounds or arbitrarily dismissed from government jobs," Amnesty said.
The NGO noted that Palestine is a party to key international rights treaties such as the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment and its Optional Protocol, saying it is legally obliged to "ensure a prompt, impartial and independent investigation into Nizar Banat’s arrest and killing".
"All those suspected of responsibility for this unlawful killing must be independently and impartially investigated, including those who ordered his arrest," Morayef said.
"Anyone reasonably suspected of responsibility should be prosecuted in fair trials in civilian courts without recourse to the death penalty. Impunity must not be further condoned."