[Ppnews] Palestinian children systematically abused in Israeli detention
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jun 16 18:14:51 EDT 2009
Report: Palestinian children systematically abused in Israeli detention
Report, DCI-Palestine, 16 June 2009
The following press release was issued on 11 June 2009:
Today, DCI-Palestine is releasing a report which documents the
widespread ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children at the
hands of the Israeli army and police force -- "Palestinian Child
Prisoners: The systematic and institutionalized ill-treatment and
torture of Palestinian children by Israeli authorities."
The release of the report comes just days after an article was
published in The Independent newspaper reporting the testimonies of
two Israeli soldiers which detail the deliberate abuse of Palestinian
children. One soldier is reported as saying that in an incident that
occurred in a Palestinian village in March, he saw a lot of soldiers
"just knee [Palestinians] because it's boring, because you stand
there for 10 hours, you're not doing anything, so they beat people up."
The report published today contains the testimonies of 33 children,
one as young as 10 years old, who bear witness to the abuse they
received at the hands of soldiers from the moment of arrest through
to an often violent interrogation.
Most of these children were arrested from villages near the Wall and
illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. There is evidence that
many children are painfully shackled for hours on end, kicked, beaten
and threatened, some with death, until they provide confessions, some
written in Hebrew, a language they do not speak or understand.
"A soldier [...] pointed his rifle at me. The rifle barrel was a few
centimetres away from my face. I was so terrified that I started to
shiver. He made fun of me and said: 'shivering? Tell me where the
pistol is before I shoot you.'"
-- Ezzat, 10 years old
Disturbingly, the report finds that these illegally-obtained
confessions are routinely used as evidence in the military courts to
convict around 700 Palestinian children every year. And the most
common charge against these children is for throwing stones. Once
sentenced, the children who gave these testimonies were mostly
imprisoned inside Israel in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention
where they receive few family visits, and little or no education.
The report concludes that this widespread and systematic abuse is
occurring within a general culture of impunity where in 600
complaints made against Israeli Security Agency interrogators for
alleged ill-treatment and torture, not a single criminal
investigation was ever conducted.
The report also contains recent recommendations made by the UN
Committee Against Torture which expressed "deep concern" at reports
of the abuse of Palestinian children when it reviewed Israel's
compliance with the Convention Against Torture in May 2009.
report [PDF - 4 MB]
The Israeli military court system in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory has operated
for over 42 years almost devoid of international scrutiny. Each year
an average of
9,000 Palestinians are prosecuted in two Israeli military courts
operating in the West
Bank, including 700 children.
From the moment of arrest, Palestinian children encounter
ill-treatment and in some
cases torture, at the hands of Israeli soldiers, policemen and
are commonly arrested from the family home in the hours before dawn by heavily
armed soldiers. The child is painfully bound, blindfolded and bundled
into the back
of a military vehicle without any indication as to why or where the
child is being
taken. Children are commonly mistreated during the transfer process
and arrive at
the interrogation and detention centres traumatised, tired and alone.
During interrogation, children as young as 12 years are denied access
to a lawyer
and visits from their families. These children will generally not be
permitted to see a
lawyer until after they have provided a confession to the
interrogator. Whilst under
interrogation children are subjected to a number of prohibited
the excessive use of blindfolds and handcuffs; slapping and kicking;
abuse for long periods of time; solitary confinement and sleep
deprivation; and a
combination of physical and psychological threats to the child, and
the child's family.
Most children confess and some are forced to sign confessions written
in Hebrew, a
language they do not comprehend. These interrogations are not video
recorded as is
required under Israeli domestic law.
Children as young as 12 years are prosecuted in the Israeli military
courts and are
treated as adults as soon as they turn 16, in contrast to the
situation under Israeli
domestic law, whereby majority is attained at 18. In 2008 the most
Palestinian children were charged with under Israeli military law,
was stone throwing.
This charge was made in 26.7% of cases and under Israeli Military
Order 378 carries a
maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment. In 91% of all cases
children, bail was denied.
Proceedings in the military courts disregard many basic fair trial
rights and general
principles of juvenile justice are simply not applied. In almost all
cases, the primary
evidence against the children is the confession extracted during a coercive
interrogation. With no faith in the system and the potential for
approximately 95% of cases end in the child pleading guilty, whether
was committed or not.
Once sentenced, the overwhelming majority of Palestinian children are detained
inside Israel, in clear contravention of the Fourth Geneva
Convention. Many children
receive no family visits whilst in prison and limited education is
only provided in two
out of five of the prisons used to detain Palestinian children.
The ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children by Israeli authorities is
widespread, systematic and institutionalised. This system operates
within a general
culture of brutality and impunity. Between 2001 and 2008, over 600
filed against Israeli Security Agency (ISA) interrogators for alleged
torture. To date, there has not been a single criminal investigation.
Unless and until there is some level of accountability for what
amounts to serious
breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the UN Convention Against Torture and
the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, both at the domestic
level, the ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children at the
hands of Israeli
authorities will continue unchecked.
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