Ramallah, September 10, 2015—A Palestinian child suffered a broken arm and bruises when a Palestinian police officer severely beat him while in custody at the central police station in the West Bank city of Jericho last month.
Early evening on August 15, a scuffle between some kids at play outside a wedding party grew out of control when adults joined in and Palestinian police intervened with force. Amid the violence, Ayoub, 14, told Defense for Children International – Palestine that a Palestinian police officer grabbed him by the neck, struck him with a baton on the head, and dragged him toward a police car. Ayoub managed to get away from the officer and threw a stone at him. The officer caught him again, dragged and shoved him into a police car, and proceeded to slap, punch and hit him with a baton.
Two other police officers sitting in the front failed to stop the beating that continued until the child arrived at the Jericho central police station. There, the police officer handcuffed Ayoub’s right hand to a door and beat him so severely that Ayoub wound up with a broken left arm, bloodied mouth, and bruising all over his body.
“I wished he would stop hitting me because I was in terrible pain,” said Ayoub to DCIP. “I no longer sleep well because I am constantly thinking about what happened to me, about the beating that I had to endure.”
Another police officer removed the handcuffs, helped Ayoub wash his face, and took him to a police car for transfer to a detention center on the outskirts of Jericho for questioning. An officer in plainclothes questioned Ayoub without informing him of his rights such as remaining silent, consulting a lawyer, and having a parent present. He accused him of attacking the police officer who beat him. Ayoub wound up in a prison cell in the same building.
In the middle of the night, Ayoub began screaming in pain. The police officers on duty took him first to a medical center and then to Jericho Government Hospital where a doctor tended to his broken arm and contusions.
Ayoub remained in custody in the juvenile section of Jericho’s central prison until August 23 when a judge released him on bail. His next court appearance will be on September 19 when he will answer to the charge of assaulting the police officer.
Jericho and the Jordan Valley Police Chief Azzam Jabara told DCIP that the police formed an investigative committee to look into the abuse incident against the child. Pending the outcome of the inquiry, Jabara stressed that the police will hold the perpetrator responsible for any wrongdoing.
“The individual actions of the police officer do not reflect police policy,” said Jabara. “The formation of an investigative committee shows the commitment toward accountability and transparency within the police force.”
DCIP has documented violations of children’s rights under Palestinian jurisdiction. In 2014, 2,457 Palestinian children in the West Bank found themselves in conflict with the Palestinian law. According to the General Police Directorate, 1,891 of them wound up in detention centers after their arrest. Some reported threats, beatings, and neglect by Palestinian security forces.
In 2014, DCIP provided free legal aid to 81 children in conflict with the Palestinian law and documented 22 other cases. Around 40 percent of them said they endured some form of physical violence at the hands of non-specialized Palestinian police and security services. None of these children arrested by the juvenile police – a unit established in 2012 to handle juvenile cases – reported ill-treatment.
On average, the 81 children represented by DCIP, spent 18 days in pretrial detention. Other human rights organizations have reported longer periods. Lack of facilities have left juveniles in adult prisons or police stations though in separate cells.