Report: Palestinian children in Israeli detention abused, tortured

Tuesday July 24, 2007 19:05 by Saed Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies

A report issued by Defense for Children International (DCI), called “Children Behind Bars”, found that during 2006 and the first half of 2007, the vast majority of children apprehended by the Israeli forces were imprisoned.

Only 3 to 5% of the juveniles abducted were granted bail pending trial.

DCI also noted that over 99% of the children tried pleaded guilty and the tiny minority that pleaded not guilty were eventually found guilty and sentenced.

The human rights organization drew on articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to highlight that accused individuals have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

DCI said the children confessed to the charges brought against them after extended periods of interrogation, which occurred before their court appearance.

The report includes personal testimonies from children that expose physical and sexual abuse at the hands of the Israeli army and brutal treatment during lengthy periods of interrogation.

At the end of the interrogation process the children were told to sign papers, despite not knowing what they were signing.

Stress positions

One child, Rashed Radwa, recalls being beaten whilst blindfolded. He was then forced into stress positions for ten hours in cold weather. He was then asked to sign papers in Hebrew and when he refused his interrogator smashed his head against a desk.

The report states that “Israeli Police, Israeli Army and Israeli Secret Service personnel conduct the arrest and interrogation of Palestinian children on a daily basis. The arrests and subsequent interrogations in detention centres operate in isolation of any transparent rules, procedure or laws giving Israeli military personnel wide powers during this phase.

“Israeli Military Order 378 states that a Palestinian child can be held by an ordinary, low-ranking Israeli soldier or police officer for 96 hours. Following that, a child can be held for interrogation for 8 days. The period of detention can then be extended by a judge of the military for 90 days and, following that, by a judge of the court of appeals for an additional 3 months.

Torture

DCI noted that “a central aspect of the interrogation phase is the use of particular forms of torture and ill treatment. Statements made by Palestinian children held in Israeli prisons, to Defense for Children International within this article, illustrate the varying types of methods used.

“The report highlights the Universal Declaration of Human Rights articles stating that no one should be subject to torture.

16-year-old Assem Lufti Abdel Lattif Khalil recounts his experience of torture at the hands of Israeli soldiers. He was beaten and put in a stress position outdoors in the rain. He spent 40 days in an interrogation centre.

One 15-year-old said that he was sexually abused and beaten repeatedly in sensitive areas of his body.

DCI says, “The overall effect of this is the erosion and virtual depletion of a Palestinian accused’s rights during the arrest and interrogation phase. A Palestinian child under arrest and during interrogation does not have the right to silence; the right to immediate and liberal access to a lawyer; the right to be advised of his or her rights while under arrest and interrogation; the right not to be assaulted, abused or tortured; the right to have contact with a family member or support person and; the right to be presumed innocent.”
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