Israeli government accused of torturing Palestinian children

An Israeli human rights organization says child prisoners were kept outside in cages during winter

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An Israeli human rights organization has accused the government of torturing Palestinian children, after it was discovered that child prisoners were kept in outside cages during winter, The Independent reported Thursday.

The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel published a report saying children suspected of minor crimes were subjected to “public caging,” abusive interrogations, threats and sexual violence.

The report was published before the government’s Public Petitions Committee held a hearing to discuss the issue.
The pressure to change legislation regarding child detainment and torture arose after the country’s Public Defender’s Office recently released details of a lawyer’s visit to a detention facility.

“During our visit, held during a fierce storm that hit the state, attorneys met detainees who described to them a shocking picture: in the middle of the night dozens of detainees were transferred to the external iron cages built outside the... transition facility in Ramla,” the PDO wrote on its website.

“It turns out that this procedure, under which prisoners waited outside in cages, lasted for several months, and was verified by other officials.”

PCATI gathered its information on the detainment, torture and ill treatment of children from civil society organizations such as Psychoactive, Military Court Watch, Breaking the Silence, the PDO, B’Tselem, and the Palestine section of Defense for Children International.

PCATI said according to evidence collected by DCI Palestine, a “majority of Palestinian child detainees are charged with throwing stones and... 74% reportedly experience physical violence during arrest, transfer, or interrogation.”

The report said: “Israel is the only nation to automatically and systematically prosecute children in military courts that lack basic and fundamental fair trial guarantees.”

PCATI added that “around 500-700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12 years old, are arrested, detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military detention system each year.”

The organization said it demands that “the right to be free from torture be anchored in Israeli domestic law and that it include specific provisions for the protection of all children who come into contact with any arm of Israel's security forces.”

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