RAMALLAH, June 5, 2016 (WAFA) - Israeli military courts Monday issued actual imprisonment sentences and imposed fines against a number of Palestinian minor detainees incarcerated in the Israeli jail of Ofer, during the month of May, 2016, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS).
A PPS lawyer reported on Detainees representatives in Ofer prison, Abdel-Fatah Dawleh, as saying that the number of minor detainees who received actual imprisonment sentences, varying between three and 30 months, reached 48 in May alone.
He said the fines imposed by the courts on minor detainees reached at least NIS 88 thousand.
To be noted, there are 183 Palestinian minor detainees held in Ofer prison, 81 in Megiddo jail, in addition to at least 50 others who are held in detention and interrogation centers and under house arrests.
A military court watch progress report issued in April 2015 quoted a UNICEF report published in March 2013 and titled, ‘Children in Israeli Military Detention’, which stated that, “The number of Palestinian children detained in Israeli Prison Service (IPS) facilities has fluctuated between a low of 154 and a high of 236 per month.”
It said that while the annual monthly average has fallen slightly since the publication of the UNICEF Report from 199 children per month (2013) to 188 children per month (2014) – a decrease of 6 per cent over the course of two years there has been a 12 per cent jump in the last month. To be noted, Israel is the only state to automatically and systematically prosecute children in military courts that lack basic standards of due process.
The progress report also noted that, “In no other country are children systematically tried by juvenile military courts that, by definition, fall short of providing the necessary guarantees to ensure respect for their rights.”
According to UNICEF’s latest update in February 2015, “Reports of alleged ill-treatment of children during arrest, transfer, interrogation and detention have not significantly decreased in 2013 and 2014.”
Regarding the time period during which a Palestinian child is brought before a judge, UNICEF stated that “Military Order 1711 reduces the time period in which some children accused of “security” offences must be brought before a military judge following arrest,” noting that these new time periods are still twice as long as those applied to Israeli children living in West Bank settlements.
Following Israel’s establishment of a military Juvenile court in 2009 in the West Bank, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has expressed concern at this attempt to “incorporate juvenile justice standards within military courts” and recommended that children should never be prosecuted in military.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers stated that, “The exercise of jurisdiction by a military court over civilians not performing military tasks is normally inconsistent with the fair, impartial and independent administration of justice. This should even more evidently apply in the case of children.”
The human rights center, B’Tselem, has also concluded that the establishment of a military juvenile court has “failed to bring about meaningful change in the military system’s treatment of minors.”
The progress report also noted that, “As of April 2015 the military authorities have not released data on the number of children detained by the military in 2014.” In March 2015 and during a visit to minor Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in Israeli jails, Head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society‘s legal unit, Jawad Boulos, said that 33 minors are serving actual imprisonment sentences for different periods of time.
He said that children are treated like adults during their detention period, in a blatant violation of relevant children’s rights and laws, reported the International Middle East Media Center.
In a report filed on the last day of 2014, DCI Palestine says that “2014 brought no respite for Palestinian children, whether entangled in the Israeli military detention system, living in residential areas in the Gaza Strip, or simply on their way to school.”
The organization said that in 2014, “The average number of children held in Israeli military detention stood at 197 per month.” Around 500 700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12, are arrested, detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military detention system each year.
Recent amendments to Israeli military laws concerning children have had little to no impact on their treatment during the critical 24 48 hours after an arrest, where most of the ill-treatment occurs at the hands of soldiers, policemen and interrogators, said the International Middle East Media Center.