Monday, October 26, 2020

Human Rights Watch report criticises Israel for abusing Palestinian children

By Paul Falon - July 21, 2015
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Jerusalem] [Human rights] [Israeli army] [child arrests]

A child being arrested in Nabi Saleh. Photo (archive) by Lazar Simeonov.

A Human Rights Watch (HRW)
report released Monday accuses Israeli security forces of choking and beating Palestinian children in custody and threatening and interrogating child detainees without the presence of parents or lawyers.

HRW investigated abusive arrests of children following local human rights organizations initial reports’, which documented abuses of Palestinian children in Israeli detention.

HRW’s condemnation of the treatment of Palestinian children is in light of interviews conducted with children from neighborhoods of East Jerusalem who were detained by Israeli security forces on suspicion of throwing stones.

Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whitson said that "Israeli forces' mistreatment of Palestinian children is at odds with its claim to respect children's rights," adding that "as Israel's largest military donor, the US should press hard for an end to these abusive practices and for reforms."

"Israel has been on notice for years that its security forces are abusing Palestinian children's rights in occupied territory, but the problems continue. These are not difficult abuses to end if the Israeli government were serious about doing so," she said in a statement released alongside the report.

In each case Human Rights Watch documented, children were interrogated without their parent’s knowledge and without prior access to a lawyer. In five cases, children said interrogators either did not permit a parent to attend their interrogation or only allowed parents’ access at the conclusion of the interrogation.

Two 15 year-old boys and a 14 year-old girl said they were forced to sign confessions written in Hebrew, a language they do not understand. Israeli interrogators use Arabic when interrogating Palestinian children but frequently use Hebrew to document the interviews. Only 138 of 440 interrogations conducted by Israeli security forces in 2014 were documented in Arabic, according to the Israeli military.

In another documented case involving an 11 year old boy, an Israeli border police threw a stun grenade at him, put him in a chokehold, put a black bag over his head, threatened and kicked the boy prior to an interrogation.

HRW submitted its preliminary findings, including details of five of the individual cases it investigated, to the Israeli army and to the Israeli police. The separate responses of the Israeli army and Justice Ministry, failed to address the specific allegations of unnecessary force during arrest and subsequent ill-treatment, whilst insisting that security officials had adhered to the law in all cases, including informing the children of their rights.

HRW investigations indicate that existing laws are insufficient to safeguard the rights of Palestinian children in the custody of the Israeli police and the Israeli army, and that officials often adhere to legal requirements and procedures in a manner that undermines the protections they aimed to guarantee.

The report notes that confessions obtained from children in violation of their rights add to the pressure on them to cooperate in plea bargains that result in their imprisonment with reduced sentences.

“Israel has been on notice for years that its security forces are abusing Palestinian children’s rights in occupied territory, but the problems continue,” Whitson said. “These are not difficult abuses to end if the Israeli government were serious about doing so.”


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