UN rights body 'gravely concerned' about treatment of Palestinian minors in IDF courts

UN Human Rights Council special rapporteur Makarim Wibisono on Monday slammed IDF courts in a harsh manner.

March 24, 2015 08:20
2 minute read.
Israeli security forces detain a Palestinian near the West Bank town of Abu Dis

Israeli security forces detain a Palestinian near the West Bank town of Abu Dis. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Only a few weeks after a critical, but soft-toned report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on the treatment of Palestinian minors in IDF West Bank courts, the UN Human Rights Council special rapporteur Makarim Wibisono on Monday slammed those same courts in a much harsher manner.

Wibisono told the UNHRC, “I am gravely concerned about treatment of Palestinians, including children, in Israeli detention.”

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He referred to a March 2013 UNICEF report that had harshly criticized Israel for “ill-treatment of children in the military detention system” that appeared to be “widespread, systematic, and institutionalized.”

Wibisono did not mention the still critical, but much more moderate report issued by UNICEF at the end of February.

He added, “No child deserves to undergo terrifying night arrests, verbal and physical abuse, denial of access to a lawyer, humiliation.”

Further, he claimed, “Israeli children living in illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory are not treated in the same way.”

Remarking on another point, Wibisono seemed to accidentally conflate reforms related to audiovisual recordings of minors with having interrogations in Arabic.

He incorrectly implied that the IDF had recently conducted interrogations in languages that the detainee Palestinian minors did not understand and still does so in cases of rock-throwing.

The UNICEF report, along with consistent IDF practice appears to clearly contradict this particular claim.

Rather, the IDF had been using audiovisual recordings for only some interrogations of Palestinian minors and is making a push to audio-visually record them more often.

However, on the language issue, even in the recent past all interrogations were in Arabic if that was the Palestinian minors preferred language.

The statement gave Israel some credit saying, “recognition is due for the fact that Israel has worked with UNICEF following its report,” but concluded that still “far too little has been done.”

While the overall conclusion of the UNHRC report was similar to the UNICEF report, the former was much more moderate in its criticism, seeming to signal that it is taking a less confrontational stance toward Israel than the UNHRC.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon responded stating, “Children are used in a cynical and manipulative way by Palestinian terrorists. They are put deliberately in harm’s way.”

He added, “Israel faces this challenge in a humane way, based on legal principles. We wish and hope children would not be used by the Palestinians. Unfortunately, the Palestinian education system encourages and promotes hatred among the young generations, making peace and dialogue even more difficult to achieve.”

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