Yesterday, the UK Parliament held a non-legislative debate on ‘Child prisoners and detainees in the Occupied Palestinian Territories’ (OPT) at Westminster Hall, initiated by Labour MP Sarah Champion. The briefing summary for the debate states that a number of international and national – including Israeli-human rights organisations have investigated and reported on a range of issues impacting child prisoners including: random and night time arrests, arrests of young children, interrogation techniques, pre-trial detention, trial procedures, the military juvenile court, punishment and sentencing, conditions in military detention and aftercare. The most common charge levied against children is throwing stones, a crime that is punishable under Israeli military law by up to 20 years in prison. Children also face extrajudicial killings and unlawful use of intentional lethal force.
In the past few months, the situation has escalated as Israel have taken a number of further actions against Palestinian children amidst recent clashes. In November 2015, the Knesset plenum approved in a preliminary bill custodial sentencing for under 14s convicted of “nationalistic-motivated” offences. They additionally passed a series of amendments to the Israeli penal code and youth law, imposing 10-year prison sentences for throwing stones or other objects at moving vehicles and double the sentence for those convicted if they were deemed to be throwing stones with the purpose of harming others. The Knesset also amended the national insurance law to deprive children convicted of “nationalistic-motivated” and “terrorist activities” from social benefits during imprisonment and allowed Israeli juvenile courts to impose fines on their families for up to NIS 10,000 ( £1,731.60).
According to Addameer’s research, the number of Palestinian children in Israeli prison has risen from 156 at the end of September to 480 in December, more than 50% increase than the beginning of the year. The database complied by DCIP between January and June 2015 shows that 86 percent of Palestinian children endured some form of physical violence following arrest, in addition to strip searches and poor conditions in Israeli prisons. It has also been reported that that Israeli interrogators use position abuse, using threats and solitary confinement to coerce confessions. It is also reported that children also face collective punishment against them, including denial of family visitation. In the majority of cases, Israeli authorities deprived children of legal counsel and improperly informed them of their rights.
Before the military court system, there are no special interrogation procedures for children detained by the Israeli military and no provisions for an attorney or even a family member to be present when a child is questioned. Addameer also report “despite recommendations by the UN Committee against Torture in May 2009 that the interrogations should be video recorded, no provisions to this effect have yet been enacted.” To add further salt to the wounds, in June 2015 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon ignored human rights groups clamour for Israel’s inclusion in its ‘List of Shame of states and armed groups that violate children’s rights’.
Despite numerous breaches of UN and Geneva Conventions and International Law, Israel continue to have impunity over their actions and neither the UN nor the international community are taking meaningful actions other than words to hold Israel accountable, as they do with Russia, for example.
Join War on Want’s campaign End G4S’ complicity in Israel’s Prison Systems. In 2007, the British security company G4S signed a contract with the Israeli Prison Authority to provide security systems and other services for major Israeli prisons. War on Want calls on G4S to end its complicity in Israel’s prison system. For more information: http://www.waronwant.org/g4s
On 23 November 2019, EuroPal Forum and Middle East Monitor co-hosted a conference at the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury in London on the relations between Europe and Palestine. A first of its kind, the conference brought together individuals at the forefront of discourse on Palestine in
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