DCI-Palestine and OMCT issue report on Israeli military detention of children

On Tuesday 3 May 2016, the UN Committee against Torture (CAT Committee) will consider the Fifth Periodic Report of the State of Israel. On this occasion, DCI-Palestine, together with the World Organization against Torture (OMCT), submitted a joint alternative report on the treatment of Palestinian children by Israeli military forces.

The report specifically highlights the use of excessive force by Israeli forces, including occurrences of ill-treatment and torture. From 2012-2015, DCI-Palestine collected information from affidavits of 429 children detained in the West Bank. It was found that 3/4 of these children suffered some form of physical violence following arrest. 97% of them did not have access to legal counsel and/or could not benefit from the presence of a parent and/or legal guardian during the interrogation process.

Physical violence typically consisted of children being pushed, slapped, kicked, or struck with a soldier’s helmet or rifle. Once arrested, nearly all children (97.7%) had their hands restrained, and a vast majority of them (88.3%) were blindfolded for extended periods of time. Access to basic necessities, such as food, water and sanitation, was in most cases denied during arrest, transfer, and interrogation.

(Photo: AFP / Ahmad Gharabli)
(Photo: AFP / Ahmad Gharabli)

In addition, DCI-Palestine documented 66 cases of solitary confinement. On average, children were held in solitary confinement for 13 days, with the longest documented case reaching 45 days.

The prevalent and frequent use of restraints, threats, verbal and physical violence, as well as the failure to properly notify children of their rights, conduct interrogation in the absence of a lawyer or family member, and making necessary documents only available in Hebrew, a language that Palestinian children generally do not understand, constitute grave, systematic violations of Palestinian children’s rights.

DCI-Palestine and OMCT recommend to the CAT Committee that the basic rights of children be upheld to the standards of international juvenile justice. Indeed, detention shall be used only as a last resort, children must have access to legal counsel and parents prior to and during interrogations, and the use of physical and/or psychological violence against child detainees must be strictly prohibited.

Read the full report here.

*The review of the State of Israel’s fifth periodic report will take place on Tuesday 3 May 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland, from 10:00-13:00. The CAT Committee will consider Israel’s replies on the following day, Wednesday 4 May, from 15:00-18:00. More information is available here.