THE AGE: “British lawyers condemn Israeli injustice on Palestinian minors” by Ruth Pollard, 28Jun12 June 28, 2012

by Ruth Pollard   -   The Age   -  28 June 2012

ISRAEL’S practice of holding Palestinian children in solitary confinement and its use of violence and coerced confessions in interrogations is again in the spotlight following a report by eminent British lawyers.

They found ”undisputed” evidence that Israel is violating international law in at least six areas – in particular denying children access to a lawyer, separating them from their parents, discriminatory treatment in the legal process and the use of shackles.

Operating on the belief that every Palestinian child is a ”potential terrorist”, Israel’s military court system was forcing children into a ”spiral of injustice”, stated the report, Children in Military Custody.

Its findings echo those of Defence of Children International, which has documented hundreds of cases of children held in Israeli detention without being informed of their rights.

Israel’s practice of transporting child prisoners out of the occupied West Bank for interrogation and detention inside Israel – documented by its own prisons service – is a clear breach of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the British lawyers, who visited the West Bank and Israel in September, found. ”Unequal or differential justice is not justice,” they wrote. ”It is uncontested that there are major differentials between the law governing the treatment of Palestinian children and the law governing treatment of Israeli children.”

The most serious discrepancies are the length of time child detainees can be held before being brought before a judge (up to 24 hours for Israeli children compared with eight days for Palestinian children); without access to a lawyer (48 hours compared with 90 days); and without charge (40 days compared with 188 days).

If Israel was routinely holding children in solitary confinement for substantial periods of time – as human rights groups such as DCI and B’Tselem have documented – it could not only amount to torture, but would be in breach of both the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as other international laws, the report found.

Israel is a signatory to that convention and bound by its provisions.

Israel was examining the proposals in the report, said Mark Regev, the spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. ”The report acknowledges that Israel has made improvements and they have praised us for that,” Mr Regev said.

”You have countless acts of violence, including deadly violence, perpetrated by minors – Israel is acting because of a vacuum created by a lack of action from the Palestinian leadership and by the exploitation of minors by the extremist groups.”

There was no excuse for Israel’s continued breaches of international law, said Gerard Horton, a lawyer with Defence of Children International.

”All the evidence shows that these children experience post-traumatic stress disorder following their experience in prison. Their mothers will tell you their boy doesn’t sleep, that he wets his bed, he has nightmares, sometimes he drops out of school and a lot of children isolate themselves from their families and their communities … this is the effect of Israel’s 45-year military occupation.”

If you liked this article, please consider making a donation to Australians for Palestine by clicking on the PayPal link
Thank You.
Bookmark and Share

Add a Comment

required, use real name
required, will not be published
optional, your blog address