Mousa H., 17, latest Palestinian teenager incarcerated without charge or trial for an indefinite period. (Photo: H. family)
Ramallah, May 18, 2017—At least two Palestinian teenagers, both under 18, received administrative detention orders in 2017 following accusations of planning or threatening to commit violence.
A lawyer appealed the administrative detention order against one of the teenagers and secured his release in mid-April after 48 days of incarceration without charge. The child and his family spoke to Defense for Children International - Palestine on the condition of anonymity. The second teenager, 17-year-old Mousa H. from the West Bank town of Silwad, northeast of Ramallah, received a two-month administrative detention order on April 13.
Mousa told DCIP that an interrogator accused him of “posing a threat to the security of the area.” Much of the questions concerned a sibling’s possible involvement in a recent attack which caused the death of an Israeli soldier. “The interrogator asked me if I or someone else sent my brother to carry out the attack,” said Mousa.
The interrogation took place three days after some 30 Israeli soldiers raided Mousa’s family home in Silwad around 4 a.m. on April 7, Mousa told DCIP in a sworn testimony. They searched the home and questioned Mousa and his father for several hours before arresting the teenager. While transferring Mousa to a nearby Israeli military base, two of the soldiers repeatedly slapped and kicked him. He arrived at Ofer prison, near Ramallah, more than 10 hours after his arrest, underwent a strip search, and ended up in the juvenile section.
Administrative detention permits military commanders or government officials to incarcerate individuals without charge or trial based on secret evidence for indefinite periods.
It will be nearly a year of incarceration for Ahmad H., who turned 18 in March, when his administrative detention order expires in late July, with no guarantee of release.
Israeli interrogators accused Ahmad of incitement over Facebook posts. On August 10, 2016, Israeli authorities placed the teenager, then 17, under administrative detention for six months. They renewed the order on January 31 for two months, and again on March 31, for four months. Ahmad’s parents told DCIP that their son was still in the juvenile section at Israel’s Ofer military prison, outside Ramallah.
In October 2015, Israel renewed the practice of administrative detention against Palestinian children in the West Bank for the first time in four years.
DCIP has documented the use of administrative detention against six children in 2015, 14 in 2016, and two in 2017. Of these, 18 were released without charge after spending between three and 10 months in administrative detention, and two were charged, convicted and sentenced after spending three months in administrative detention. Two Palestinian children, one of whom has since turned 18 years old, remain in administrative detention.
According to media reports, around 850 Palestinian prisoners have remained on hunger strike since April 17 in protest of their ill-treatment and denial of due process at the hands of Israeli authorities, including the use of administrative detention.
International juvenile justice standards, which Israel has obliged itself to implement by ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1991, demand that children should only be deprived of their liberty as a measure of last resort and must not be unlawfully or arbitrarily detained.
Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes between 500 and 700 children in military courts each year that lack fundamental fair trial rights.
DCIP considers all persons below the age of 18 to be children in accordance with the CRC.