A new IsraeliĀ reportĀ has demolished claims made, by Israeli authorities, that significant āreformsā have been made to system of military detention and prosecution of Palestinian children.
The report, issued by the Israeli human rights NGO BāTselem, titled as āMinors in Jeopardy: Violation of the Rights of Palestinian Minors by Israelās Military Courts,ā is expected to deal a blow to Israelās reputation even amongst its Western allies, for whom the issue of Palestinian children in the military court system is one of repeated concern.
According to BāTselem, āover the past decade, the state has made several changes to the military orders that deal with the arrest and detention of minors and their treatment in the military courtsā, changes that, āon the face of itā¦were meant to improve the protections afforded to minors.ā
However, the NGO concludes, āthe changes Israel made have had no more than a negligible impact on minorsā rights,ā and seem to have had āfar more to do with improved appearances than with what happens in actual practiceā.
One specific āreformā highlighted by the report is the military juvenile court, introduced in 2009. While Israeli authorities consider its establishment āa landmark achievement in the protection of minorsā rights in the military justice system,ā in practice, āit has failed to improve the safeguarding of the rights of minors facing charges.ā
This, Bātselem explains, is because remand hearings are held at the ordinary military court, and, because trial hearings are āvery rareā since āthe overwhelming majority of the cases are closed in a plea bargain between the defence and the prosecutionā.
āThe reason that so many defendants are prepared to enter into plea bargains is the military courtsā policy on detention which results in minors being kept in custody from the time they are arrested until after they serve their prison sentence,ā BāTselem added.
A further point made by the new report is that while the āreformsā address āwhat goes on in the military courts proper,ā the changes ādo not deal with the crucial stages of the initial arrest and interrogationā, which is what ādetermines the case.ā
āDuring these early phases, minors suffer much harm. They undergo the process in utter isolation, without their parents or a lawyer by their side, or any other adult who has their best interests at heart, to explain what is to come and inform them of their rights,ā BāTselem states.
āInstead, they are surrounded by adults who are representatives of the regime of occupation under which they live. Some do not even speak their language, and all are entirely focused on extracting a confession or information from the minors.ā
Overall, BāTselem accuses Israeli authorities of ātak[ing] pains to create a faĆ§ade of legality in an attempt to hide the human rights abuses associated with enforcing the regime of occupation.ā
~Middle East Monitor/Days of Palestine
Opinion/Analysis 03/15/18:Ā Israeli Military Strangles Its Own Weapons Manufacturer to Privatize It