Saturday, 24 March 2012

Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted: (March update)

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14)

"But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." (Matthew 18:6)

If that is the judgement of Jesus on anyone who causes a child to sin, what do you imagine is his view of those who torture children?

DCI-Palestine launched a new report: Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted: Children held in military detention.

The report is the culmination of four year’s work by DCI, with the support of the European Union, focusing on verifying reports of ill-treatment and torture of children in the Israeli military detention system. The findings of the report are based on 311 sworn affidavits taken from children between January 2008 and January 2012.

# Common complaints and areas of concern Number of cases Percentage of children
1   Hand ties 296 95%
2   Blindfolds 281 90%
3   Physical violence  234 75%
4   Detention inside Israel in violation of Article 76 196 63%
5   Arrested between midnight and 5:00 am  188 60%
6   Confession during interrogation
180 58%
7   Threats 178 57%
8   Verbal abuse and/or humiliation 169 54%
9   Strip searched 102 33%
10   Transferred on floor of vehicle 98 32%
11   Signed/shown documents written in Hebrew 91 29%
12   Solitary confinement 38 12%

The report found that there is a systematic pattern of ill-treatment, and in some cases torture, of children held in the military detention system, with the majority of the abuse occurring during the first 48 hours.

The testimonies reveal that most children are arrested from villages located close to friction points, namely settlements built in violation of international law, and roads used by the Israeli army or settlers. The report includes 10 recommendations, which if implemented, would reduce the level of ill-treatment, but no one should be under any illusion that the treatment documented in the report can be eliminated so long as the friction points remain and Palestinian children are treated as second-class individuals.

The full report is available on line, and hard copies are available on request.

In the last month (March 2012), DCI reported the following worrying trend:

  • There was a 10 percent increase in the number of Palestinian children held in Israeli detention facilities (now 206 children).
  • There was a 29 percent increase in the number of young Palestinian children (12-15 years) held in Israeli detention (now 31 children).
  • There has been a 53 percent increase in the number of children in detention since December 2011.
 Read the March bulletin here

What we experienced recently in a village near Bethlehem [see Child Abuse in Palestine ] is clearly just the tip of the iceberg.