[Ppnews] More than 160 Palestinian children remain behind Israeli bars

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Oct 21 11:04:13 EDT 2011

More than 160 Palestinian children remain behind Israeli bars

<http://electronicintifada.net/location/gaza-city>Gaza City
20 October 2011

GAZA CITY (IRIN) - While there have been emotional scenes after the 
release of 477 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, concerns 
are being raised about the plight of 164 Palestinian children from 
the West Bank in Israeli custody.

They were either sentenced or are being detained, mainly for 
stone-throwing, according to the 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/unicef>UN Children's Fund 
(UNICEF) which, along with other international organizations, is 
appealing to the Israeli government to release all Palestinian 
children in Israeli military detention.

It is unclear whether the children will be part of the second wave of 
550 releases in the coming two months.

"UNICEF calls on the Israeli government to release Palestinian child 
detainees so that they can be reunited with their families," said 
Jean Gough, a UNICEF representative for the West Bank and Gaza. "As 
stated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the detention of 
children should be used only as a measure of last resort and for the 
shortest appropriate period of time," she said.

The Israeli justice ministry was unable to confirm the number of 
Palestinian children detained by Israel.

Mother can't speak to son

Rami Abu Haneieh, aged 14 and from Hebron, was arrested by Israeli 
forces one month ago for throwing stones. "I have not been permitted 
to see or speak with him since his arrest," said his mother, Khloud 
Abu Haneieh, a primary school teacher. His lawyer was allowed to 
visit Rami once, said Khloud, adding that her son may be released as 
part of the second wave of the prisoner swap.

The organization 
for Children International-Palestine Section (DCI-Palestine) also 
issued an urgent appeal for the children to be freed.

According to the latest figures released by the 
Prison Service and DCI-Palestine, on 1 October there were 164 
Palestinian children (aged 12-17) in Israeli detention facilities, 
including 35 aged 12-15. Seventy-six of these children have been 
sentenced, while 88 children are being held in pre-trial detention.

The number of Palestinian children detained in Israel fluctuates, 
said UNICEF spokesperson Catherine Weibel in Jerusalem. In 2010, on 
average 250 children were in detention each month, and in 2009 the 
monthly average reached 300, she said.

DCI estimates that each year about 700 Palestinian children aged 
12-17 from the West Bank are prosecuted in Israeli military courts 
after being arrested, interrogated and detained by the Israeli 
military, police or security agents. According to UNICEF, more than 
7,000 Palestinian children were arrested and detained by Israeli 
authorities over the past 10 years.

Sabri Awad, 16, from 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/beit-ommar>Beit Ommar, near 
Hebron, was arrested and detained by Israeli soldiers three weeks 
ago. "Our family and his lawyer have not been allowed to see or speak 
with him," said his 18-year-old brother, Yousif Awad, unsure why 
Sabri was arrested.

In 2010 two children were being held in 
detention (detention without charge or trial authorized by 
administrative order rather than judicial decree) in violation of 
international law, reports UNICEF, although there are none at present.

According to Weibel, Palestinian children from 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/east-jerusalem>East Jerusalem are 
tried in civil courts administered by the Israeli police, just the 
same as Israeli children. Palestinian children from elsewhere in the 
West Bank are tried in military courts.

Palestinians arrested by the Israeli army in the West Bank fall under 
the jurisdiction of Israeli "military legislation." This is a 
separate military court system that applies only to Palestinians, 
according to the Israeli military.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, UN special representative for children in armed 
conflict said: "Juvenile justice standards are clear; children should 
not be tried before military tribunals."

Since Israel's "disengagement" from the Gaza Strip in September 2005, 
Palestinians from Gaza detained by Israeli authorities are generally 
prosecuted in Israel under civilian security legislation, and not 
under military law.

It is a violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention to 
remove children under military occupation from occupied territory, 
said spokesperson Weibel, thereby prohibiting family visits.

The Israeli army admits that most Palestinian detainees are 
imprisoned inside Israel, but argues that removing Palestinians from 
the West Bank is approved by the 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/israeli-high-court>Israeli high 
court and is consistent with Israeli law.

Torture persists

According to DCI, reports of torture and ill-treatment during the 
arrest, transfer and interrogation stages in the system when children 
may be pressured to sign confessions, have persisted for years.

"Ill-treatment starts at the moment of arrest, when many children 
report experiencing terrifying night-time raids on the family home, 
before being tied, often painfully so, and blindfolded," reports DCI.

Also, children continue to be interrogated in the absence of a lawyer 
or a parent, and continue to be denied bail in around 90 percent of 
cases in violation of Article 37(b) of the UN Convention on the 
Rights of the Child, according to DCI.

The Israeli Prisons Service was unavailable for comment.

In 2010, there were at least 90 cases documented of the ill-treatment 
of Palestinian children while detained by Israeli authorities, said 
Weibel, and in 2009 there were at least 101 cases documented.

<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/hamas>Hamas deputy foreign 
minister Ghazi Hamad, who participated in talks with Israel to broker 
the prisoner swap deal, said: "Nearly 200 children and medical 
patients being held prisoner may be part of the second wave [of 
prisoner releases]."

This item comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and 
information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the 
United Nations or its agencies. All IRIN material may be reposted or 
reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the 
<http://www.irinnews.org/copyright.aspx>copyright page for conditions 
of use. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of 
Humanitarian Affairs.

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