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Access to lawyers

The overwhelming majority of minors continue to be denied access to a lawyer prior to, or during, their interrogation. The evidence indicates that more children are now being informed that they have the right to consult with a lawyer, but they are unable to exercise this right until after the end of the interrogation. As a result most children continue to consult with a lawyer for the first time in a military court after the interrogation phase is over. 

International juvenile justice standards require independent scrutiny of the methods of interrogation including the presence of a lawyer. In February 2013, UNICEF recommended that all minors in detention shall have prompt and regular access to an independent lawyer of their choice. Further, UNICEF recommended that the questioning or interrogation of a minor should always take place in the presence of a lawyer and a family member, and should always be audio-visually recorded for the purpose of independent oversight.
 
Under Israeli military law a minor must be informed of his/her right to consult with a lawyer on arrival at a police station. However, the order does not stipulate when the consultation should take place, rendering the right to consult with a lawyer largely illusory and ineffectual. Further, there is no corresponding obligation whatsoever on the military to inform a minor of this right.
 
Although the military courts have said on a number of occasions that a minor should consult with a lawyer prior to interrogation, this rarely happens in practice. This is due, in part, to the fact that many children are arrested at night  and generally will not have the contact details of a lawyer. Further, it is extremely rare for the military courts to reject evidence obtained from a child during interrogation in circumstances where the child did nor first consult with a lawyer.
 
While there is no right under Israeli military or civilian law for a lawyer to be present during the interrogation of a suspect under arrest, it is relevant to note that the rights and protections afforded to Palestinians in the West Bank ultimately derive from international law, not Israeli civilian law. 

The evidence indicates that the international standards for the prompt access to lawyers and their presence during questioning are ignored in almost every case. It should be noted that permitting the presence of lawyers during interrogation not only provides a practical safeguard that would improve the protection of children but would also assist the authorities in dispelling any false allegations of wrongdoing.

 

Additional cases

  1. T.H.O.M. - January 2017
  2. I.N.A.S. - December 2016
  3. I.M.L.S. - November 2016
  4. A.H.A.T. - August 2016
  5. R.M.A.K. - May 2016