CHILD PRISONERS BRIEFING No.7: 23 March 2002 Campaign website : http://www.dci-pal.org/prisonweb/childprisoners.html * Don't forget to sign the petition to free Palestinian Child Political prisoners! http://www.PetitionOnline.com/dcips/petition.html * Contents: ************************************************************************* 1. OVERVIEW OF PRISON CONDITIONS FOR CHILD POLITICAL PRISONERS 2. Palestinian lawyers prevented from visiting child prisoners for eight months 3. Case Study: MAJDI MANSOUR 4. DCI/PS Welcomes UN Special Rapporteur Comments on Palestinian Child Political Prisoners 5. Israeli Newspaper Reveals that Military Court Judges Are Soldiers Without Legal Training 6. CAMPAIGN NEWS 1. OVERVIEW OF PRISON CONDITIONS FOR CHILD POLITICAL PRISONERS: In Telmond Prison, approximately 60 child prisoners are being held in very poor conditions. Some of these children are as young as 14 years old. They are not permitted to continue their education and child prisoners from the West Bank are not permitted visits from their families. In one section of Telmond, around 20 children are being held with Israeli juvenile criminal prisoners where they are placed in life-threatening conditions. Children in this section have been cut severely by razors, beaten, and had their belongings stolen by the Israeli criminal prisoners. There were two cases of attempted rape last year in this section. The Prison Administration has allowed these attacks to continue without taking any action against the perpetrators. In DCI/PS' last prisoners briefing, we reported on two attacks by prison guards on child prisoners in section 8 of Telmond Prison. These attacks occurred on 24th and 31st January, and resulted in injuries to three of the prisoners. Five prisoners were placed in isolation following the attacks and personal belongings of the prisoners were confiscated. These five children have been allowed to return to their cells but many of the belongings that were confiscated have not been returned to the prisoners. Moreover, the prison administration continues to refuse to recognize the elected representative of the children. In late January, the prison administration asked to meet with the prisoners' representative. However, this supposed meeting was merely a means of further intimidating the children. When the representative went to the office of the prison director, he was taken straight to isolation for two days and never met with the prison director. Ramle Prison There are currently three girls incarcerated in Ramle prison. In addition, there are two girls aged 15 and 17 years who are currently in Moscobbiya Detention Center and are due to be transferred to Ramle in the near future. These girls are treated very badly by the prison administration, and are subject to regular beatings, confiscation of belongings and harassment by the prison guards. The girls are currently held with other female Palestinian political prisoners in three cells, each containing five detainees. The detainees are forbidden from visiting the neighboring cells. Most recently, recreation time has been halved and the girls are only allowed out of their cells for 1 hour each day. Palestinian lawyers from the West Bank are forbidden from visiting the female detainees. In the last three months the girls have been visited only three times by Israeli lawyers, and these lawyers report that they have been kept waiting for 3 hours and made to pass through six different searches before being allowed to meet with the prisoners. Megiddo Prison Around 80 Palestinian children are held in Megiddo Prison distributed throughout seven sections. A main challenge facing child prisoners in Megiddo is that they are treated in the same manner as adult prisoners and not accorded their special status as juveniles. They are forced to sleep in tents outside with no protection against the weather. 2. Palestinian lawyers prevented from visiting child prisoners for eight months Since 5 July 2001, all Palestinian lawyers from the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been prevented from visiting their clients in Israeli prisons. On 19 February 2002, a coalition of human rights organizations including DCI/PS, Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) and Hamoked, petitioned the Israeli High Court to allow lawyer visits. The court replied that visits were permitted provided they complied with the procedures outlined by the Prison Administration. These procedures amount to a flagrant violation of legal rights and include the following: * Lawyers must have permission from the Israeli military to leave the West Bank and Gaza Strip. According to the requirements of the Israeli prison administration this permission must clearly state that they have been given permission because they are a lawyer. However, when the DCI/PS' lawyer requested such a permit from the Israeli military he was told that they do not give permission with this reason marked. * The lawyer must prove that he/she is representing the child in court. In order to prove this, the child must sign a form, however, the Prison Administration will not allow a lawyer to meet face-to-face with their client. Instead, the lawyer must fax a form to the prison where the guards will ask a prisoner to sign it. In at least one case, the prison guards have deceived the detainee into signing a confession along with the form. * For children who have been sentenced, the lawyer must send his ID card, proof of power of attorney and a permission to enter Israel as a lawyer to the prison 48 hours before the visit. This means that it is impossible to visit the prison quickly in cases of emergency. * Palestinian children from Jerusalem are forbidden from utilizing the services of Palestinian lawyers from the West Bank or Gaza Strip. In many cases, children from the West Bank who are arrested in Jerusalem are tried in Jerusalem courts and thus refused the services of a West Bank lawyer. All these conditions place impossible barriers in front of Palestinian lawyers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Given the almost total ban on family visits in place since the beginning of the Intifada in September 2000, lawyers are often the only link a Palestinian child prisoner has with the outside world. In the case of repeated attacks on detainees by prison guards it is imperative that a lawyer has unimpeded and immediate access to the prisons. Any sanctity of the lawyer-client relationship is broken without this type of access. This situation constitutes a serious violation of international law and places Palestinian children at the mercy of a dangerous and in some cases life-threatening prison system. This system allows prison guards and the administration to act towards child detainees without any form of outside monitoring or observation. In response to the court decision on 19 February 2002, a meeting of lawyers and concerned NGOs decided to place another petition before the Israeli High Court as soon as possible. Further information will be provided as it becomes available. 3. Case Study: MAJDI MANSOUR Majdi Mansour from a village near Ramallah was arrested on 15 November 2000 when he was 16 years old. Majdi was hit by a car in 1996 and as a result is severely mentally disabled. He has learning difficulties, trouble speaking and cannot remember events properly. Following his arrest in late 2000, Majdi was charged with throwing stones and two molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers. Despite his very obvious disabilities, the prison administration stated he had no medical problems. He was found guilty and sentenced to 3 years and 2 months in prison. Majdi's sentence is all the more remarkable given the release on 20 March 2002 of Israeli businessman Ofer Nimrodi. Nimrodi was found guilty of obstruction of justice, falsifying documents, breach of trust, and intimidating a witness as part of a plea bargain agreement. He was initially accused of conspiracy to commit murder. He was released early serving 2/3 of a 25-month sentence. It seems remarkable that the sentence of a 16-year old mentally disabled Palestinian boy accused of resisting the Israeli occupation should be more than twice the length of one of the most high profile criminal cases in Israeli history. DCI/PS believes that prison is extremely dangerous for Majdi given his mental condition and calls for his immediate release. 4. DCI/PS Welcomes UN Special Rapporteur Comments on Palestinian Child Political Prisoners DCI/PS welcomes the report of the UN Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, Mr. John Dugard, on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967. DCI/PS is particularly pleased with the emphasis within the Special Rapporteur's report on the issue of child political prisoners. The Special Rapporteur correctly notes that over 150 Palestinian children are currently incarcerated in Israeli jails in deplorable conditions that do not meet the minimum of international standards of detention. Virtually every Palestinian child detainee faces forms of torture such as beating, being tied in painful positions, denied food, sleep deprivation, death threats and threats of rape by Israeli soldiers or police. Family visits have been banned and children are detained for months awaiting trial and then sentenced on average between 6-12 months for the "crime" of throwing stones. This report is the first time that the issue of Palestinian child political prisoners has been dealt with in such depth by a Special Rapporteur. The Special Rapporteur's report will be presented to the 58th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, now meeting in Geneva. DCI/PS calls on the international community to take concrete, practical steps to fulfil the recommendations of the report. Most specifically, the Special Rapporteur has called for an investigation into the "...allegations of inhuman treatment of children under the military justice system and that immediate steps be taken to remedy this situation." (paragraph 58). For a complete copy of the report, please see: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/2/58chr/advandocs.htm 5. Israeli Newspaper Reveals that Military Court Judges Are Soldiers Without Legal Training In an article appearing on Thursday 21 March, 2002 in Ha'aretz, one of Israel's main English language newspapers, Amos Harel reports that many judges serving in Israeli military courts in the West Bank and Gaza Strip lack any legal background or training. Instead, these judges are career military officers from military intelligence. The Ha'aretz article reports that the officers complained to their superiors that "they were simply serving as 'rubber stamps' in these legal proceedings." This article confirms DCI/PS analysis that the Israeli military courts are merely another arm of Israeli occupation policy. These courts are not based on any objective legal standards but rather come under the system of Israeli military orders that are issued by the Israeli Military Authority. These military orders apply only to Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, not to the illegal Israeli settlers living in the area. 6. CAMPAIGN NEWS - Speaking Tour in Norway and Sweden A DCI/PS staff member recently spent 10 days in Norway and Sweden on a speaking tour to promote the Campaign. He spoke at a conference on Palestinian children in Oslo organized by the Norwegian Association of NGOs for Palestine and the YMCA/YWCA and met with representatives from different Norwegian NGOs, trade unions and journalists to discuss the issue of Palestinian child political prisoners. In Sweden, large meetings were organized in Gottenburg and Stockholm to discuss the issue of child political prisoners, including a meeting with representatives from the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Yvonne Ruweida, a member of the Swedish Parliament. DCI/PS wishes to thank the Norwegian Association of NGOs in Palestine, YMCA/YWCA and the International Commission of Jurists (Sweden) who organized the visit. - Article on Palestinian Child Political Prisoners in International Child Rights Journal A four page spread on Palestinian child political prisoners was featured in the January 2002 edition of the International Children's Rights Monitor (Palestinian Child Political Prisoners Detained by Israel, p. 26, Volume 15, No. 1). The Monitor is a publication of Defence for Children International and is distributed through Kluwer Law International. The article highlighted both the conditions for child prisoners and the work of the Campaign.
[Reply to this message] [Start a new topic] [Date Index] [Thread Index] [Author Index] [Subject Index] [List Home Page] [HREA Home Page]