Rising numbers of Palestinian children subjected to solitary confinement

May 12, 2014
Israeli forces arrested Sameh Zaidan, then 17 years old, from his home at 1 a.m. in July 2013. He was held in solitary confinement for a total of 28 days. Photo: DCI-Palestine.

Ramallah, May 12, 2014—Rising numbers of Palestinian children are being subjected to solitary confinement for interrogation purposes in Israeli detention, according to a new report from Defense for Children International Palestine (DCI-Palestine).

In 21.4 percent of cases recorded by DCI-Palestine in 2013, children detained in the Israeli military detention system reported undergoing solitary confinement as part of the interrogation process. This represents an increase of two percent from 2012.

DCI-Palestine collected 98 sworn affidavits from Palestinian children aged 12 to 17 in 2013.

“The use of isolation against Palestinian children as an interrogation tool is a growing trend,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCI-Palestine. “This is a violation of children’s rights and the international community must demand justice and accountability.”

DCI-Palestine’s research overwhelmingly suggests that the use of solitary confinement against Palestinian child detainees in the Israeli military detention system is employed almost solely for interrogation purposes. The apparent purpose is to obtain a confession or to gather intelligence on other individuals.

Globally, children and juvenile offenders are often held in isolation either as a disciplinary measure or to separate them from adult populations. The use of solitary confinement by Israeli authorities does not appear to be related to any disciplinary, protective, or medical rationale or justification.

During a period of just under two years, from January 2012 to December 2013, DCI-Palestine collected 40 affidavits from child detainees that detailed solitary confinement.

Children held in solitary confinement spent an average of 10 days in isolation. The longest period of confinement documented in a single case was 29 days in 2012, and 28 days in 2013.

In 2012, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, condemned Israel’s use of solitary confinement against Palestinian children, saying it “flagrantly violates international human rights standards.”

“This pattern of abuse by Israel is grave. It is inhumane, cruel, degrading, and unlawful, and, most worryingly, it is likely to adversely affect the mental and physical health of underage detainees,” Falk said.

Palestinian child detainees are held in solitary confinement and interrogated by the Israel Security Agency (ISA) at interrogation and detention centers located inside Israel, including Petah Tikva detention center, Kishon detention center, and Shikma prison in Ashkelon.

The transfer of Palestinian child detainees from the Occupied Palestinian territories to prisons inside Israel violates Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of detainees out of the occupied territory.

DCI-Palestine calls on Israeli military court judges to exclude all evidence obtained by force or coercion, and demands that the practice of using solitary confinement on children in Israeli detention facilities be recognized as a form of torture and stopped immediately.

The report demands that the prohibition of solitary confinement against juveniles be enshrined in law and recommends that Israeli authorities implement effective measures to ensure that perpetrators of children’s rights violations are held to account.

To read the full report, click here.

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