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Hidden Cruelty: The Plight of Palestinian Children in Israeli Military Courts Revealed

Posted On: 07-06-2023 | National News , Human Rights
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Defense of Children International Movement “DCI” stated that the systematic deprivation by Israeli occupation authorities of the rights of Palestinian children detained, preventing them from fair trials and prosecuting them in military courts, constitutes arbitrary detention.

This came in a report issued by the " DCI International Movement" titled "Automatically Arbitrary: Palestinian Children in the Israeli Military Courts System."

The report highlighted the systematic denial of fair trial rights inherent in the practices of the Israeli occupation forces in arresting, detaining, interrogating, and prosecuting Palestinian children in Israeli military courts.

The "DCI" pointed out that it documented testimonies from 766 Palestinian children from the West Bank who were arrested by the Israeli occupation forces between 2016 and 2022, revealing that three-quarters of them were subjected to some form of physical violence after their arrest. Additionally, 97% of them were not accompanied by either parent during their interrogation, and two-thirds of them were not properly informed of their rights. Moreover, all of them were subjected to the Israeli military law that lacks guarantees of fair trial, care, and protection that children should enjoy. They were tried in an Israeli military court system that is neither independent nor neutral.

Furthermore, the "International Movement" reported that the majority of Palestinian children were arrested on mere suspicion, without arrest warrants. None of the 766 children mentioned that Israeli occupation authorities provided them with detention orders at the time of their arrest.

Only 111 out of 766 children (14.5%) generally reported being informed of the reason for their arrest, meaning that 85.5% of the children had no information about the reason for their arrest at the moment of arrest.

Similarly, only 32 out of 766 children (4.2%) reported receiving summons from the Israeli occupation authorities for interrogation. These summonses did not meet the minimum requirement of a detention order, as they did not include the reason for suspicion or information about any charges.

The report indicated that in the vast majority of cases, Israeli occupation authorities systematically failed to invoke any legal basis justifying the deprivation of freedom for Palestinian children detained in the occupied West Bank. This constitutes arbitrary detention that violates international law.

The report affirmed that Israeli occupation authorities systematically ignore and deny the basic guarantees and protections related to the right to a fair trial for Palestinian children to the extent that any deprivation of freedom within the military courts system becomes arbitrary.

The report concluded that the Israeli military courts do not meet the standards of an independent and impartial tribunal for the purposes of adjudicating cases involving civilians, including children. The Palestinian children who were arrested by the occupation forces and tried in military courts are deprived of their right to a fair trial before a competent, independent, and impartial court.

Furthermore, the report revealed that Israeli authorities systematically arrest children in the occupied West Bank without any attempt to issue arrest orders that would provide a legal basis for the detention. They do not explain or notify the child or their family of the reasons for the arrest. Moreover, they systematically deprive children of their right to immediate legal assistance and the presence of a family member during interrogation.

The "DCI" stated that despite Israel's accession to several fundamental international human rights treaties and its commitment to act in accordance with those treaties, it continues to persistently disregard compliance with international law. The result is the systematic deprivation of the right to a fair trial for detained children and their trial before Israeli military courts.

Each year, the Israeli occupation army arrests and prosecutes between 500 and 700 Palestinian children before military courts that lack the basic guarantees of a fair trial. From the moment of arrest, the child is subjected to mistreatment and torture at the hands of the occupation forces.

Although international standards emphasize that civilians, including children, should not be brought before military courts, Israel continues to be the only country in the world that systematically and continuously tries children before military courts.

"The Global Movement emphasized that regardless of the reason for the deprivation of liberty, any detained or imprisoned person is protected by several fundamental guarantees in international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including the right to life, the prohibition of arbitrary deprivation of liberty, the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment."

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