Child Imprisonment – an Israeli Speciality

Child Imprisonment – an Israeli Speciality

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Post-Blog

Below is yet another story of the brutalisation of a Palestinian child.  Muhammad
al-Hashlamoun is just 15 years old but he has been put in administrative
detention, i.e. detention without trial, beaten up and treated like a member of
the untermenschen (the lower races in Nazi Germany). 

If Muhammad was a Jewish boy he would not, of course,
be subject to this shameful behaviour. 
He would have a lawyer, an adult accompanying him at all interviews, he
wouldn’t be in administrative detention in an adult gaol and he wouldn’t, because
no Israeli Jewish child ever is, physically abused.

Tony Greenstein

Ryan Rodrick
Beiler
11 February 2016

Muhammad al-Hashlamoun, in an image circulated on social media.

Amnesty
International
is demanding the release of 17-year-old Palestinian Muhammad al-Hashlamoun
who has been sentenced to six months of detention without charge or trial by
Israeli occupation forces.

At
present al-Hashlamoun is one of two minors in administrative
detention
by Israel, which rights groups say amounts to arbitrary detention
under international human rights law and violates the UN Convention on the
Rights of the Child. Four other children were released in January.

Israel
began
putting Palestinian children in administrative detention last October, resuming
a practice that had reportedly not been used since 2011.

Amnesty
reports
that Israeli forces took Muhammad al-Hashlamoun from his home in the occupied
East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amoud in the early morning hours of 3
December.

Around
40 Israeli Border Police and agents from the Israel Security Agency, also known
as Shin Bet, raided
the building that houses his family’s apartment.

The
Israeli armed men “went into the apartment of Muhammad al-Hashlamoun’s uncle
first, and dragged the uncle from his bed into the street without letting him
dress,”
Amnesty states.
Muhammad
was reportedly beaten during his
arrest.

During
18 days in the Jerusalem interrogation center known as the Russian Compound
Muhammad was questioned about planning attacks, which he denied.


Prior
to his detention, occupation authorities had raided his home on an almost daily
basis to question him about his activities.

After
two hearings in civilian courts, the teenager was sentenced to house arrest for
one week and a fine of about $1,260. Instead, Moshe Yaalon, the Israeli defense
minister intervened and issued a six-month administrative detention order the
following day.

Muhammad’s
rights have been further violated by moving him to Megiddo prison in the north
of present-day Israel.

As
a Palestinian from East Jerusalem, which is part of the occupied West Bank
according to international law, the Fourth Geneva Convention requires that
Muhammad not be taken out of the occupied territory.

When
Muhammad’s mother visited him in Megiddo, Amnesty says, she found him “tired
and anxious.”

This
is not Muhammad’s first time in prison. In 2014 he served a 101-day sentence
after being accused of throwing stones.

At
the end of last year, minors made up about one
fifth of all Palestinians
detained since the escalation of violence that
began in October, a significant portion of whom are from East Jerusalem.

Torture

According
to testimonies collected by human rights groups, Palestinian minors routinely
face physical and emotional abuse while in Israeli custody in order to force
confessions or extract information.

Data
compiled last year by Defense for Children International–Palestine found that
three out of four Palestinian children experienced physical violence after
their detention by Israeli forces.
Children
have reported beatings, strip searches, painful stress positions, threats,
sleep deprivation and solitary confinement – abuses amounting to torture.

After
prolonged interrogations without a parent or legal counsel present, Palestinian
children have frequently reported being forced to sign confessions in Hebrew, a
language they do not understand.
A
2013 study
by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem found that Palestinian children detained
in the occupied West Bank were systematically subjected to torture and severe
physical violence, including threats of rape, in order to force them to confess
to Israeli accusations, especially stone throwing.


Child rights

Six
months is the maximum sentence for administrative detention, but terms can be
renewed indefinitely.

In
addition to being held without charge, administrative detainees are unable to
see the evidence against them, making it impossible to mount a legal defense.

The
practice, first introduced by British colonial authorities and continued by
Israel, was ostensibly intended as an emergency measure to arrest those who
posed an extreme and imminent threat.
With
rare
exceptions
, it is only used against Palestinians.

As
of January, Israel was holding a total of 660 Palestinian administrative
detainees, according to
prisoners rights group Addameer.

While
this form of imprisonment violates international standards of due process for
adults, children – defined as individuals under age 18 – have even greater
protections against arbitrary detention.
According
to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which Israel is a
signatory, “No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or
arbitrarily.”

The
detention of a child “shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for
the shortest appropriate period of time.”

Children
moreover, “have the right to challenge the legality of their detention before a
court or other competent, independent and impartial authority and have the
right to a prompt decision on any challenge.”

These
are rights Israel, as in the case of Muhammad al-Hashlamoun, habitually denies
to Palestinians.
In
a rare step last year year, 19 members of the US Congress, called
on
the Obama administration to push Israel to end the systematic abuses of
Palestinian children in detention.

Calling
it “cruel, inhuman and degrading,” the lawmakers described Israel’s military
detention of Palestinian children as an “indefensible abuse of human rights.”

 

 

 

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