Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ilan Pappe: The Children’s Court

By Ilan Pappe, Znet, May 19. 2011
 
Source: LRB Blog
 
Camp Ofer near Ramallah is an Israeli ‘incarceration facility’ for detaining and processing Palestinian prisoners, including children (there are currently more than 200 Palestinian children in Israeli detention; a fifth of them are under 16). A delegation of three British Labour MPs who visited Camp Ofer last December told Amira Hass in Haaretz what they saw. More than two-thirds of detained children said they had been beaten. They were all ‘better off pleading guilty regardless of whether they had done something, because if they were detained until the end of proceedings, this could be three times longer than their punishment’. One of the MPs was disturbed to hear from his escort that this was a relatively good day: the children’s hands were cuffed in front of them rather than behind their backs.

A report on the prison in Haaretz last month included the case of a 14-year-old boy who had been in custody for six days before being brought before the judge (in Israel suspects have to be brought before a judge within 24 hours; in the Occupied Territories they can be held for up to eight days). His lawyer told the court that the child had been ‘interrogated in a cruel, undignified fashion’. As is common in such cases, the defendant and his lawyer didn’t know what the charges were. The boy was remanded in custody for another ten days, after which ‘he will be sentenced to another few months in prison’ for a crime he has no idea of. 

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