Newsletter - November 2013
Detention figures – According to the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), as of 31 October 2013, there were 4,753 Palestinians held in Israeli detention facilities including 159 children. In a positive development this represents a monthly decrease of 11.2 percent and for the second month in a row, no child below the age of 14 was recorded as being detained in IPS facilities. However, the longer term trend for child detention remains up 5.1 percent compared with 2012. According to the IPS, 51 percent of children and 89 percent of adults continue to be detained in facilities inside Israel, in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. More
Testimony – On 27 October 2013, a 15-year-old boy from the Al 'Arrub refugee camp, near Bethlehem, was released after spending four months in prison. “It was around 2:30 a.m. when I heard the sound of somebody trying to break into our house. My father went downstairs to see who it was. Soon Israeli soldiers were inside our house; they did not say what they wanted. I saw them when they came upstairs; they wore masks and were heavily armed. They asked my father for our names and when my father mentioned my name three soldiers grabbed me by my pyjama top and asked me to turn around and raise my hands. Then they painfully tied my hands behind my back with one plastic tie and blindfolded me. The tie was so tight that I still have marks on my wrists nearly four months on.” More
New developments – In October 2013, Military Order 1726 came into effect reducing the time period in which a child can be held on remand before being charged from 150 days to 130 days. The new time limit is still more than twice as long as the time period applied to Israeli children living in the West Bank. The order is currently only available in Hebrew. More
UNICEF data indicates deteriorating situation for child detainees – In March 2013, UNICEF published a report – Children in Israeli Military Detention. The main finding of the report was that: “ill-treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized throughout the process, from the moment of arrest until the child’s prosecution and eventual conviction and sentencing.” In October 2013, UNICEF published a bulletin to review progress made in improving the treatment of children held in detention. Affidavit evidence presented in UNICEF’s bulletin indicates that since the publication of its report in March, 100 percent of the children in UNICEF’s sample (19 children) reported being painfully hand-tied and subjected to physical violence. More
Pilot scheme to issue summonses in lieu of night arrests – In October, UNICEF announced that: “In September 2013, the IDF Central Command for the West Bank has agreed to pilot test summons of children in two areas of the West Bank, in lieu of night arrests. This is a critical development, because, if implemented effectively, it will contribute to address a number of concerns related to the first 24 hours after the arrest, during which children are most vulnerable.” On 28 October, MCW wrote to UNICEF’s Special Representative for the State of Palestine, Ms. June Kunugi, seeking further clarification as to:
- The start/finish date for the pilot test;
- The two locations in the West Bank selected for the pilot test;
- The circumstances in which children will be issued with summonses; and
- The means by which children will be issued with summonses.
At the time of writing the pilot test has not been introduced and UNICEF was not in a position to provide answers to these questions.
Complaint submitted in the UK against security company G4S - On 18 November 2013, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR) submitted a complaint to the UK National Contact Point (UK NCP) for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (Guidelines). The UK NCP is based at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). LPHR's complaint concerns certain activities of the security group G4S in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. LPHR anticipates that the UK NCP will immediately assess the alleged violations of the Guidelines by G4S. According to the latest figures published by the IPS, 51 percent of Palestinian child detainees from the West Bank and 89 percent of adults, continued to be transferred to, and detained in, prisons located inside Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. G4S continues to provide goods and services to these prisons.
The Guardian – Israeli soldier fatally stabbed on bus – On 13 November 2013, an Israeli soldier was stabbed to death on a bus in northern Israel by a 16-year-old Palestinian youth who told police he was acting in revenge for the imprisonment by Israel of members of his family. More
+972 Mag – Data shows worsening situation for children in Israeli military detention - A UNICEF report indicates a measurable deterioration in the treatment of Palestinian children held in Israeli military detention in the months since the UN organisation recommended serious changes. More
New UK minister addresses concerns raised about treatment of child detainees – On 29 October 2013, Hugh Robertson, the new Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, responded to a parliamentary question on the treatment of child detainees that: “Despite some progress, we retain serious concerns about Israel's treatment of Palestinian child detainees. The British Ambassador in Tel Aviv wrote again to the Israeli Justice Minister on 14 October to urge further action.” More
UN member states make recommendations on child detention – On 1 November 2013, the UN Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) adopted a report including a number of recommendations made by member states relevant to children held in Israeli military detention. These recommendations included the following:
- The Netherlands - Take all steps to ensure that Palestinian children in military custody receive the same level of care and have the same rights as provided by Israeli criminal law to youth offenders.
- The UK - End the solitary confinement of child detainees, and that audio-visual recordings are made of all interviews with child detainees by the Israeli police and security forces.
- Slovenia - Use alternatives to detaining children, and enact regulations to ensure greater protection of children’s rights particularly such as the use of restraints and strip searches.
- Ireland - End urgently night arrests of Palestinian children, the admissibility of evidence in military courts of written confessions in Hebrew signed by them, their solitary confinement and the denial of access to family members or to legal representation. More
Six core recommendations that would have a transformative effect – It is generally acknowledged that the majority of complaints of ill-treatment of children held in Israeli military detention relate to the first 24 hours. The following recommendations specifically address this time frame:
- Children should only be arrested during daylight hours except in rare and exceptional circumstances. This can be safely and practically achieved through the issue of summonses.
- All children and their legal guardian should be provided with a written statement in Arabic informing them of their full legal rights in custody. This statement must be provided at the time of arrest, or as soon as is feasibly possible, but prior to questioning.
- All children must be given the opportunity to consult with a lawyer of their choice prior to questioning.
- All children must be accompanied by a family member throughout their questioning.
- Every interrogation must be audio-visually recorded and copy of the tape must be provided to the defence prior to the first hearing.
- Breach of any of the above recommendations should result in the discontinuation of the prosecution and the child’s immediate release.
Photo: Ofer military court by Sylvie Le Clezio