Israel detaining 236 Palestinian children

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israel is detaining at least 236 children as young as 12, among nearly 5,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails, the Palestinian Authority said ahead of Prisoners Day on Wednesday.

Israel is the only country in the world that has devised military courts for children, and it has detained over 8,000 children since 2000.

Under Israeli military orders, a Palestinian child can be held for up to 188 days before being charged with an offense and for up to two years between being charged and tried.

Most Palestinian children are held for throwing stones, which holds a maximum sentence of 20 years under military law.

The United Nations Children Fund says Palestinian children in Israeli custody are subject to widespread, systematic and institutionalized ill-treatment that violates international law.

In a report on Palestinian child prisoners released in March, UNICEF identified practices that “amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention against Torture”.

“The pattern of ill-treatment includes … the practice of blindfolding children and tying their hands with plastic ties, physical and verbal abuse during transfer to an interrogation site, including the use of painful restraints,” the report said.

It said minors suffered physical violence and threats during their interrogation, were coerced into confession and not given immediate access to a lawyer or family during questioning.

“Treatment inconsistent with child rights continues during court appearances, including shackling of children, denial of bail and imposition of custodial sentences and transfer of children outside occupied Palestinian territory to serve their sentences inside Israel,” the report said.

(Source / 18.04.2013)

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