Volvo prides itself on being a byword for sturdiness, safety and reliability. After a careful examination of the vehicle-maker's investment in Israel, perhaps it should also become synonymous with enabling torture.
The Swedish company has a direct shareholding of 26.5 percent in the Israeli company Merkavim, manufacturer of the Mars Prisoner Bus. This bus has been specifically designed for use by the Israeli Prison Authority to transport Palestinians apprehended in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip to facilities within Israel's internationally-recognized borders. The remainder of Merkavim is owned by Mayer's Cars and Trucks, which doubles up as the exclusive representative of Volvo in Israel.
Evidence amassed by human rights monitors indicates that torture is widespread within Israeli detention centers. Although the country's high court ruled in 1999 that some interrogation methods should be outlawed, Israel continues to approve torture in cases where it is deemed "necessary," Amnesty International has found. An important loophole in the court's ruling indicated that torture is permissible in cases where Israeli security forces face an imminent threat. Israel's attorney general has been all-too-willing to invoke that loophole in order to approve the use of torture, despite how Israel has ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture.