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Palestinian minor held by Israel without charge denied family visits

July 2, 2017 1:18 P.M. (Updated: July 2, 2017 11:08 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities have prevented a 15-year-old Palestinian boy from receiving family visits since he was detained more than two months ago, his father said Monday.

Since Abd al-Nasser Lahham, from al-Duheisha refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, was detained on April 26, six sessions have been held at Israeli military courts for his case, during which the prosecution has demanded the boy be sentenced to 15 months in prison, his father Muhammad Lahham, a journalist at Ma’an, said.

The court has yet to approve the sentence.

A representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the body that facilitates family visits for Palestinians in the occupied territory to Israeli prisons, told Lahham that Israeli authorities were depriving the 15-year-old boy from receiving visits “for unknown reasons.”

Of the 6,200 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, 490 are held without charge or trial under administrative detention and 300 are minors, according to Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer.

Human rights organizations have long denounced the mistreatment of Palestinian children at the hands of Israeli forces.

Last Monday marked fives years since a delegation of lawyers from the United Kingdom reviewed the treatment of Palestinian children under Israeli military law and published their findings and recommendations in a report funded by the UK Foreign Office, according to a statement from Military Court Watch (MCW).

The report found “undisputed evidence” that the military detention system violated at least six articles under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and two articles under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The delegation made 40 recommendations, including a call to use summonses in lieu of night arrests and providing reasons for arrest; demanding an end to the use of blindfolds, restraints, and physical abuse; ensuring the right to silence; allowing access to parents and a lawyer prior to interrogation; and the relocation of all detention centers within the occupied territory, rather than inside Israel, in accordance with the Fourth Geneva Convention.

However, according MCW, evidence indicates that just one of the UK report's 40 recommendations -- the separation of children from adults while in custody -- had been substantially implemented.

Furthermore, a follow-up mission by the UK legal delegation announced that their imminent visit to the region to review progress in implementing the report's 40 recommendations had been cancelled due to a lack of cooperation by Israeli civilian and military authorities.

According the testimonies gathered by MCW of 127 children detained by the military in 2016, 53 percent of Palestinian children continued to report being arrested between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., with MCW stressing that “night arrest operations have a tendency to intimidate and terrify the targeted communities and children report being ‘scared’ or ‘terrified’ when confronted with heavily armed soldiers in their homes and bedrooms.”

Only 2 percent of children reported being served with a summons as an alternative to night arrest, most of which were delivered at night anyway, frequently lacking details about the accusation, sometimes written in Hebrew, and providing no information about the child's legal rights in custody.

The vast majority of child detainees -- 94 percent -- reported being hand tied, 81 percent of children reported being blindfolded or hooded, and 64 percent of children reported being subjected to various forms of physical abuse.

The majority of Palestinian children interviewed by MCW -- 84 percent -- said they were not informed of their right to silence and 88 percent of children said they were denied access to a lawyer prior to questioning.

An overwhelming 94 percent of children reported that they were not accompanied by a parent throughout their interrogation.
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