Palestinian minors’ rights violated in military courts, report says

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The rights of Palestinian minors tried in Israel’s military courts for rock throwing are being violated, according to a report by the Israeli human rights group conference of European Rabbis.

Only one of the 835 Palestinian minors arrested from the beginning of 2005 to the end of 2010 and tried in military courts in the West Bank on charges of stone throwing was acquitted, according to the report "No Minor Matter: Violation of the Rights of Palestinian Minors Arrested by Israel on Suspicion of Stone-Throwing," which was released Monday. Of the minors arrested, 34 were aged 12-13, 255 were 14-15, and 546 were 16-17.

The military legislation dealing with minors 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, interrogatio, and imprisonment, and which assume that these experiences might harm the minor’s development, according to the report.

A Military Youth Court was established in the West Bank in November 2009, but it has brought limited change, according to B’Tselem.

B’Tselem interviewed 50 Palestinian minors, who described their arrests and time in jail and which illustrate how their rights were violated, according to the organization.

Some of the minors interviewed said they were taken from home in the middle of the night and that their parents were not allowed to accompany them; they were kept awake prior to interrogation; they were denied the opportunity to use the bathroom or to eat and drink; and were threatened during the interrogation.

Minor detainees are more likely to plead guilty in a plea agreement in order to spend less time in prison, since they would receive a sentence of just a few months for pleading guilty, instead of being held in prison throughout protracted legal proceedings, according to the report.
 

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