[7 July 2011] – On 15 June 2011, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), DCI-Palestine and Yesh Din, wrote to General Avihai Mandelblit, the Chief Military Advocate General, demanding equal rights and protections for Palestinian children in conflict with the law.
The demand follows numerous reports that children are being systematically ill-treated upon their arrest, transfer and subsequent interrogation in the Israeli military detention system operating in the occupied West Bank. These reports include the excessive use of painful hand restraints and blindfolds, physical violence and threats, as well as the widespread use of coercive techniques to force children to sign confessions. Some of these confessions are written in Hebrew, a language the children do not understand.
Whilst DCI-Palestine is of the view that no child should be prosecuted in military courts which lack comprehensive fair trial and juvenile justice standards, the letter demands the immediate implementation of a number of practical measures to provide some protection to children detained in the system. These include:
1. The age of majority should be raised from 16 to 18 years, consistent with the right afforded to Israeli children;
2. No child under the age of 14 should receive a custodial sentence, consistent with the right afforded to Israeli children;
3. No child should be interrogated in the absence of a family member, consistent with the right afforded to Israeli children in most cases; and
4. All interrogations of children must be audio-visually recorded as a means of independent oversight.
The full text of the letter is available on-line.