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Defense for Children International – New Report – „Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted – Children Held in Military Detention“

„….The United Nations (UN) estimates that during the
last 44 years, around 726,000 Palestinian men, women and children have been prosecuted
and detained under these emergency laws. In the past 11 years alone, around 7,500
children, some as young as 12 years, are estimated to have been detained, interrogated,
and imprisoned within this system. This averages out at between 500-700 children per
year, or nearly two children, each and every day.
This Report is the culmination of four years’ work during which time sworn testimonies
were collected from 311 children held in Israeli military detention. The Report focuses on
the period of time between the child’s arrest and being brought before a military court
for the first time.
The testimonies reveal that the majority of children are detained in the
middle of the night in what are typically described as terrifying raids conducted by the
army. Most children have their hands painfully tied behind their backs and are blindfolded,
before being taken away to an unknown location for interrogation. The arrest and transfer
process is often accompanied by verbal abuse and humiliation, threats as well as physical
violence. Hours later the children find themselves in an interrogation room, alone, sleep
deprived, bruised and scared. Unlike Israeli children living in settlements in the West Bank,
Palestinian children are not accompanied by a parent and are generally interrogated
without the benefit of legal advice, or being informed of their right to silence.

The testimonies reveal that most children undergo a coercive interrogation, mixing
verbal abuse, threats and physical violence, generally resulting in a confession. The most
common offence children confess to is throwing stones. The Report also finds that in 29
percent of cases, the children are either shown, or made to sign, documentation written
in Hebrew, a language they do not understand.

Within eight days of their arrest, the children are brought in chains to a military court
where, in most cases, they will see a lawyer and their parents for the first time. Although
many children maintain their innocence, in the end at least 90 percent will plead guilty,
as this is the quickest way out of a system that denies children bail in 87 percent of cases.
Within days of their arrest, nearly two-thirds of the children are transferred to prisons
inside Israel in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits
such transfers. The practical consequences of this is that many children receive either
limited, or no family visits, due to freedom of movement restrictions and the time it takes
to issue a permit to visit the prisons….“
To read the full 144 pages report please go to: http://www.dci-palestine.org/sites/default/files/report_0.pdf

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