A majority of minors continue to report being shown, or made to sign, documentation written in Hebrew at the conclusion of their interrogation. Some children refuse to sign the documentation, others sign following an oral translation provided by the interrogator, whilst others sign with no understanding whatsoever. MCW is not aware of any case in which the military courts have dismissed proceedings due to foreign language documentation.
Many interrogations conducted by the Israeli police in the West Bank are audio recorded. This is mainly due to the fact that few Israeli police can write in Arabic. The investigations are conducted in Arabic and written in Hebrew. The accused person is then asked to sign the document written in Hebrew. Defence lawyers report that most of the time there are significant differences between the audio recordings and the statements written in Hebrew. Further, because most military court judges do not speak Arabic, they rely on the signed statements written in Hebrew.
In February 2013, UNICEF
recommended that all confessions written in Hebrew and signed or adopted by a Palestinian child should be rejected as evidence by the military courts.
In response to UNICEF’s recommendation, the Military Prosecutor explained
that, if a defendant would claim a confession was elicited as a result of misconduct by the investigative authorities, the Military Court is required to hold a special session (voir dire) in order to determine the admissibility of the confession given during the interrogation. However, this rarely occurs as it is generally quicker for a minor to accept a plea bargain than to challenge the system whilst detained on remand.
Although the evidence indicates a decline in the number of minors who report being shown or made to sign documentation in Hebrew, the majority are still adversely affected by this issue.
- M.H.J.B. - September 2017
- M.A.N.B. - September 2017
- M.M.M.A. - August 2017
- A.S.M.H. - June 2017
- S.A.M.Q. - April 2017