Thursday - 23 October 2014 
July 14, 2003

Palestinian Children in the Judicial System, June 2003



Arrests of Palestinian children remained at high levels in the first half of 2003, as Israeli forces continued their repression and harsh tactics in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The announcement of the Road Map to Peace had resulted in few changes on the ground by end-June 2003, and child arrests had actually accelerated through May-June when the Road Map was being discussed in earnest.

By end-June, around 350 children had been arrested compared with 750 over the whole of 2002. Meanwhile, the number of child political prisoners held in Israeli military detention centres and prisons remained at 330-350 individuals, equivalent to the level at end-2002.

A startling factor in child arrests in the first half 2003 was the number of children picked up for offences committed in previous years. In addition, a large number of children were arrested under military order 1500, promulgated during the Israeli invasions of 2002, which allows for detention without charges or trial for 18 days for adults and minors alike. This meant that most children were released after several days in prison, although during this time their basic rights were violated in a comprehensive way, including (in many cases) the denial of legal representation, parental visits or even notification of their whereabouts.

DCI had handled some 185 juvenile cases by end-June 2003, which suggests that this will be another record year, given that the organization dealt with 272 cases over the whole of 2002. This means that DCI consistently handles over 2/3 of Palestinian juvenile cases brought before the Israeli courts. The overwhelming majority of DCI cases this year involve defending child detainees against charges brought before the Israeli military courts (76%), rather than appeals (3%), transfer to more suitable facilities (4%) or release on bail (2%).

Unfortunately, DCI continued to witness a high number of juvenile administrative detention cases in early 2003, equivalent to the levels set in 2002 when these military orders began to be used against minors on a systematic basis. Administrative detention orders allow for detention of up to 6 months, without trial or specific charges. To date, DCI has handled 15 cases in 2003, compared with 32 over the course of 2002. In 2001, there were just 2 cases of this type, demonstrating the rapid evolution in the use of military orders against children over the last two years of the Intifada.

DCI Cases in 2002 According to Type:

Type of Case

Number 2003

% 1H 2003

% Total 2002

Lawsuits in Israeli Military Courts

140

75.7

48.9%

Administrative Detention

15

8.1

11.8%

Two Thirds - ( Shleish ) Lawsuits

1

0.5

4.1%

Appeal Cases

5

2.7

3.3%

Transfer to Suitable Prisons

7

3.8

8.8%

Follow-up on Detention Conditions

-

-

12.1%

Release on Bail

4

2.2

7%

Recovery of Bail

-

-

2.2%

Others

13

7.0

1.8%

Total

185

100%

100%


The previous table indicates the following:

1. There has been a rapid increase in the number of cases handled by DCI-PS to 185 cases compared with 272 cases over the whole of 2002. On a pro rata basis this represents an increase of 36% over the first six months of the year.

2. Administrative detention cases, that is arrest and detention without open charges or trial, are on a par with 2002 at 15 cases to date, compared with 32 cases over the whole of 2002 and just 2 in 2001.

The geographical distribution of First-half 2003 DCI cases:

Area

Child Cases 2003

First-half 2003 %

% total 2002

Jenin

9

5.4%

8.1%

Nablus

22

13.3%

12.1%

Tulkarem/Qalqalyia

24

14.5%

7.7%

Ramallah

28

16.9%

19.5%

Jerusalem

14

8.4%

15.1%

Bethlehem

22

13.3%

5.5%

Hebron

47

28.3%

32%

Total

166

100%

100%

Note; this figure differs from the number of cases because one detainee may have more than one case over the same period of time, e.g. a trial and appeal.

The table indicates the following:

1. In the Northern West Bank, cases from the Tulkarem/Qalqalyia district have nearly doubled in percentage terms to 14.5% of cases, or 24 minors, compared with 21 minors over the whole of 2002.

2. Cases affecting Bethlehem child residents have more than doubled in percentage terms, to 13.3% or 22 individuals, equivalent to the total number of cases from this area in 2002.

Distribution of DCI Cases According to Age:

Age

Child Cases 2003

First-half 2003 %

% total 2002

13- 14

16

9.6%

22.1%

15- 16

76

45.8%

30.1%

17 and less than 18

74

44.6%

47.8%

Total

166

100%

100%

The table indicates the following:

1. After a rise in cases affecting young children in 2002, the figures show a marked decrease in cases involving 13-14 year olds over the first-half 2003.

2. The biggest increase has been in cases involving 15-16 year olds which have risen by over 50% in percentage terms in the first half 2003.

 

Distribution of Cases According to Sentencing:

The following table is limited to cases held in the various Israeli military courts; including the first class military courts, military appeal courts, administrative detention courts, and the various detention extension courts. Of these 91 cases have been closed (table below) so far in 2003 and 49 are ongoing.

Detention Period

Child Cases 2003

First-half 2003 %

% total 2002

One month and less

21

23.0%

10%

1- 6 Months

37

40.7%

28.9%

6 Months- 1 year

14

15.4%

30.9%

1- 3 Years

10

11.0%

18.8%

Three years plus

9

9.9%

11.4%

Total

91

100%

100%

The table illustrates the following:

1. The percentage of detainees released after less than a month has more than doubled in percentage terms to 23% of cases in the first half 2003. There has also been a marked increase in the number of sentences of 1-6 months, which has become the most common sentence involving 41% of cases.

2. There has been a fall in the number of children who are sentenced to between 1-3 years at 11% of cases compared with 19% in 2002.

3. However, the longest sentences of over three years have retained last year's high levels including 9 children so far in 2003, compared with 17 over the whole of 2002.

Incidences of Torture Among Child Detainees

In a survey of seven affidavits taken from juveniles who have been detained in 2003 [1] , all of them report some kind of mistreatment or torture, whether it is beating (6 out of 7 of our sample), threats to person or family (5 out of 7) or mistreatment in the form of toilet deprivation (4), denial of showers (4) or lack of food (7). The table below gives details from those affidavits.

Mistreatment and Torture

Number

Beating

6

Shabeh - Positional Torture

1

Threats of Beatings

5

Shouting, Cursing and Abuse

7

Tying hands

7

Blindfolding

7

Sleep Deprivation

0

Toilet Deprivation

4

Shower Deprivation

4

Put in extreme temperatures

1

Midnight Arrest

4

Overcrowded Room

4

Inadequate Nutrition

7

Lack of Medical treatment

2

Inadequate breaks

4

It is clear from the sample that the use of torture on child detainees is a common experience, and almost a matter of policy, within the Israeli detention system. The many cases followed up in the courts have not changed anything and neither the Israeli Supreme Court ruling or international laws and conventions have been able to eradicate this practice under the Israeli occupation.


[1]DCI Press Release, Arrest and Detention: A measure of first resort for Palestinian Children. 30/5/2003

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