Defense for Children International - Palestine published a new report on Saturday, under the title of “No Way to Treat a Child”, detailing the widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system.
AhlulBayt News Agency - Defense for Children International - Palestine published a new report on Saturday, under the title of “No Way to Treat a Child”, detailing the widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system.
From meals prepared in a makeshift kitchen to adult prisoner "caregivers," the report also gives a rare glimpse into Palestinian children's daily living conditions in Israeli prisons.
DCIP based the report on the testimonies of 429 children detained by the Israeli military or police in the occupied West Bank between January 2012 and December 2015.
Out of 429 West Bank children detained between 2012 and 2015, three-quarters endured some form of physical violence following arrest.
In 179 out of 429 cases (41.7 percent), the Israeli military arrested children from their homes in the middle of the night. In 378 out of 429 cases (88.1 percent), Israeli forces arrested children without notifying parents of the reason for arrest or the location of detention.
In 416 out of 429 cases (97 percent), children had no parent present during the interrogation or access to legal counsel. Israeli police also did not properly inform children of their rights in 84 percent of the cases.
Interrogators used position abuse, threats, and isolation to coerce confessions from some of these children.
DCIP documented 66 children held in solitary confinement, for an average period of 13 days, during the reporting period. In 2015, Israeli authorities held Abdel-Fatah Ouri, 17, in isolation for 45 days. More than 90 percent of children held in solitary confinement provided a confession.
Israeli military court judges seldom exclude confessions obtained by coercion or torture, even those drafted in Hebrew – 144 out of 429 cases (33.6 percent) – a language that most Palestinian children do not understand. In fact, military prosecutors rely on these confessions to obtain a conviction.
Children most commonly face the charge of throwing stones, which carries maximum sentences of 10 or 20 years, depending on the circumstances. In 235 out of 297 cases closed by DCIP attorneys between 2012 and 2015 involved at least one count of the offense.
Out of 295 cases that resulted in convictions, 151 children (51.2 percent) received a custodial sentence between three and 12 months. All 295 also received suspended sentences. Israeli military court judges also imposed fines in 261 out of 295 cases (88.5 percent).
Israeli authorities transfer nearly 60 percent of Palestinian child detainees from occupied territory to prisons inside Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, according to IPS data. Many parents struggle to obtain entry permits to Israel, and children have limited family visits.
Data compiled by DCIP found that, in practice, Palestinian children in Jerusalem are not enjoying their enshrined rights. Out of 65 cases documented by DCIP in 2015, more than a third of Jerusalem youth were arrested at night (38.5 percent), the vast majority (87.7 percent) were restrained during arrest and only a slim minority of children (10.8 percent) had a parent or lawyer present during interrogation.
In fact, in the last year, East Jerusalem children suspected of committing criminal offenses saw rights violations in several categories at comparable rates to West Bank children. For example, cases documented by DCIP showed 69.2 percent of detained Jerusalem children suffered some form of physical violence at the hands of Israeli forces compared to 74.5 percent of West Bank children. For night arrest cases, there was nearly no difference between the two groups.