Treatment of Palestinian Children in Israeli Prisons Continues to Draw Attention from Human Rights Groups (video)
Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli prisons have recently drawn significant media attention to prisoner issues over the past months, including notable poor conditions for Palestinian children within Israeli prisons.
Addameer, a Palestinian prisoner support and human rights organization, reported that 236 prisoners were put into detention during the month of April 2013. An average of 200 child prisoners are incarcerated monthly, the report also shows.
This issue gained significant attention in February of 2013, when a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was released, showing that ill-treatment and in some cases, torture are widespread and systematic within Israeli prisons, against Palestinians.
B’tselem, a human rights group, said in a report released in 2011 that about 800 children between 2005 and 2010 were arrested for stone-throwing, which is the most common offense that Palestinian children are charged with. However, this number has most likely increased, as the UNICEF estimated approximately 700 child prisoners are arrested and held each year.
The report states that children are often faced with threats of death, violence, and sexual assault, and that physical violence is often used along with these threats during interrogation.
A 12-year old Palestinian child can be held up to 18 months before trial, unlike a 12-year old Israeli child, who cannot legally be held. B’tselem stated that it should be a priority to change this rule. “The most urgent change is to ensure children spend the least possible time in jail,” Na’ama Baumgarten-Sharon, researcher at B’tselem, said to Al-Jazeera Saturday. “Children must be brought before a judge in much less time.”
The UNICEF report also said that improvements are being made. A military order given in 2010 requires police to inform parents about the arrest of their children and to tell children that they have the right to access a lawyer, Reuters stated.
Mistreatment and repeated arrest puts Palestinian youth at a disadvantage due to the mental and psychological trauma. Many drop out of school as a result, according to Al-Jazeera.
* Archive footage courtesy of B’Tselem from Guardian
Image credit: http://palestinechronicle.com