Ramallah, 7 March 2013—Defence for Children International Palestine welcomes UNICEF’s release of a briefing paper titled “Children in Israeli military detention: observations and recommendations” on Wednesday that spotlights abuse of children under Israeli detention.
In recent months, DCI-Palestine has documented an increase in physical assault of children arrested and detained by Israeli forces during demonstrations across the West Bank in support of Palestinian prisoners on extended hunger strike in Israeli jails. In one incident, Israeli soldiers brutally beat a Palestinian youth who ended up with a broken nose and thumb in addition to multiple contusions. While in another case, Israeli interrogators struck a child’s face with a stick and violently shook him.
“The UNICEF paper lends further credence to findings by Palestinian human rights organizations that cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of children remains commonplace in Israel’s military detention system,” said Rifat Kassis, general director of DCI-Palestine. “Israeli authorities must account for blatant breaches of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and violations of their own domestic law.”
Since the occupation of Palestinian territory in 1967, Palestinian children have been charged with offences under Israeli military law and tried in military courts. On the other hand, Israeli children, including those living in Jewish settlements across the West Bank, fall under Israeli criminal and civilian law that affords them greater safeguards.
DCI-Palestine evidence shows that children arrive to Israeli interrogation centers blindfolded, bound and sleep deprived. Unlike their Israeli counterparts, Palestinian children have no right to be accompanied by their parents during an interrogation. They are questioned alone and rarely informed of their rights, particularly their right against self-incrimination. The interrogation techniques are generally mentally and physically coercive, frequently incorporating a mix of intimidation, threats and physical violence with a clear purpose of obtaining a confession.
A report entitled “Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted” produced by DCI-Palestine and released in 2012 found that, out of 311 sworn testimonies collected between 2008-2012, 75 percent of Palestinian child detainees experience ill-treatment during arrest, interrogation and pretrial detention.