B'Tselem: Israel violates rights of Palestinian minors

New report: Military legislation in West Bank not conforming to int'l and Israeli law in treatment of youths arrested for stone-throwing.

Soldiers guard prisoners 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Soldiers guard prisoners 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Israel routinely violates the rights of Palestinian minors arrested for stone-throwing in the West Bank and "does not conform to international and Israeli law, which acknowledge that the minor’s age affects his criminal responsibility and the manner in which he experiences arrest, interrogation, and imprisonment," a new report released by human rights organization B'Tselem on Monday charges.
According to the report, of the 835 Palestinian minors arrested for stone-throwing and tried in military courts in the West Bank between 2005 and 2010, only one was acquitted and the rest were found guilty.
In preparation of the report, B'Tselem interviewed 50 minors who described the events from the moment they were arrested to the time they were released from jail.
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The minors reported various violations of their rights, including separation from their parents during arrest, violent treatment during interrogation, being remanded to jail for long periods of time while legal proceedings took place and receiving prison sentences rather than an alternative punishment.
According to the report, many minors agree to plea bargains, in which they confess to the charges against them in exchange for a shorter sentence, fearing that, if a trial is held, they would be kept in jail during the long period of time that it takes to complete the trial.
In the period of 2005-2010, 93 percent of the minors convicted of stone throwing were given a prison sentence, its length ranging from a few days to 20 months, the report stated. Nineteen minors under age 14, who accounted for 60 percent of this age group who were convicted of stone throwing during this period, were given a prison sentence. Under the law in Israel, incarceration of minors under age 14 is prohibited.
The majority of minors interviewed by B'Tselem were not allowed regular family visits during their imprisonment. Those convicted of stone-throwing are considered security prisoners, so they are not allowed access to a telephone. In addition, the report states that prison authorities enable the minors to study only some of the subjects they were taking at school, which reduces their chances of successfully completing the school work for the year and of being promoted.
B'Tselem called on Israel to ensure the rights of Palestinian minors by bringing "the provisions of military law on par with those of Israel’s Youth Law."