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23.2.2020

HaMoked complaint to the Ministry of Justice: the recurring phenomenon of ISA interrogations of minors who are kept in isolation and denied legal counsel must be eradicated

On September 1, 2019, at around 03:30 a.m., Israeli soldiers raided the home in Jenin of 17-year-old KA, beat him and arrested him without letting him say goodbye to his family – thus the minor reported in his statement given to HaMoked. Soldiers continued to beat him also in the military vehicle transporting him to an incarceration facility (probably in Petah Tikva). Soon after he was brought to the facility, he was put in a solitary confinement cell and kept there completely alone for over 24 hours. The cell was extremely cold, and contained a mattress on the floor and a blanket; the minor’s request to get another blanket and a pillow was flatly denied; the food was unpalatable.

Only at around noon the following day, KA was let out of the cell and taken to interrogation, during which his hands were cuffed behind his back. His rights were not explained to him, he was denied the right to counsel, and neither of his parents was present during the interrogation. KA was subjected to an Israel Security Agency (ISA) interrogation for about a week. After each interrogation session he was sent back to the solitary confinement cell, where he spent most of each day, completely cut off from the outside world and any human contact except for wardens and interrogators. In the last session of that week, an interrogator not only shouted at him, as previously, but also threatened to shoot him. Moreover, only on the 7th day (KA estimates), was he allowed to shower.

On the following day he was sent to a different facility, where he was kept for two days. When he was transferred back to the interrogation facility, an interrogator told him that during those two days, he was placed together with “informers”. After two more days in the interrogation facility, he was sent to Megiddo prison.

Based on this case, on February 17, 2020, HaMoked sent a principled complaint to the Comptroller for Complaints of Interrogees, at the Ministry of Justice, on ISA interrogation of minors using prohibited interrogation methods and clarified that this was a longstanding phenomenon. HaMoked complained that KA and other minors who provided HaMoked with their testimonies (but opted not to file a complaint) were subjected to the same type of ISA interrogation as adult interrogees. HaMoked noted that “a minor held in such conditions would not be able to hold his ground during interrogation, so that the interrogation results would be questionable, to say the least”. HaMoked added that these interrogation conditions were problematic when used against adults, and much more so in the case of minors. This was a mass violation of basic rights, and the sum of measures employed by the interrogators amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment, which is universally prohibited.

HaMoked said in its letter that this was a worrying systemic failure, and demanded the Complaints Comptroller order the opening of an efficient and exhaustive investigation, in order to eradicate these unacceptable practices and failures. HaMoked added that at least minimum safeguards as established in the Israeli Youth Law and the International Convention on the Rights of the Child should be guaranteed to juvenile interrogees. This would allow for better protection of Palestinian minors’ human rights and their due process rights. HaMoked reminded the Comptroller that similar previous complaints are still pending.

It should be noted that HaMoked also sent a complaint to the military on the widespread phenomenon of soldiers’ violence during arrest and transfer to interrogation.
mail@hamoked.org.il (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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