Newsletter - May 2013
Detention figures – Each month the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) publishes figures on the number of Palestinian detainees held in its facilities. These figures are only made available on payment of a fee. The figures include details of age, sex and location of detention. However, the figures do not give the total number of detainees held in the preceding month, or how many detainees have been held over the course of the year. The figures simply tell you how many detainees were in IPS facilities on the actual day the head-count was performed. The latest available figures are for April, when there were a total of 4,748 Palestinian detainees, including 236 children, in Israeli prisons. The trend in the number of children detained has been rising steadily since September 2012. See statistics for more information.
Transfer of detainees – Under Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention it is prohibited to transfer Palestinian detainees out of the West Bank to prisons inside Israel. Under the Convention, all Palestinian detainees must be held in the West Bank – a position recently confirmed by the UK Foreign Office. In April, out of a total of 4,748 Palestinian detainees held in Israeli prison facilities, 87 percent were held in Israel, including 57 percent of child detainees. This violation of the Convention is classified as a “grave breach” for which individuals involved can be held criminally liable. This issue raises questions about the potential liability of the UK/Danish security company, G4S, which has contracts with the IPS to provide equipment for prisons inside Israel.
Solitary confinement – In a limited number of cases, Israeli authorities continue to use solitary confinement on children as an interrogation technique. On 15 March, a 16-year-old boy from the village of Hares, near Ari’el settlement, in the West Bank, was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 5:30 a.m. and transferred to Al Jalame interrogation centre, near Haifa, in Israel. On arrival at Al Jalame, the boy was interrogated on a number of occasions without the benefit of legal advice. He was accused at throwing stones at a road used by settlers near his village – an accusation he denied. For three days the boy was held in a small, windowless cell with the lights left on around the clock. Seven days after his arrest, the boy was released without charge. The use of solitary confinement on children has been strongly criticised by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E. Méndez, who has called for a total prohibition on its in the case of children.