G4S, the firm at the center of the debacle over security for the London 2012 Olympics, is helping Israel secure facilities where Palestinian children are imprisoned and severely abused.
Defence for Children-Palestine (DCI-Palestine) has released an urgent appeal to end the practice of holding Palestinian children from the West Bank in solitary confinement in facilities in Israel. The organization has documented 53 such cases since 2008.
The children have been held in solitary confinement mainly in Al Jalame and Petah Tikva interrogation centers. The security systems for Al Jalame detention facilities were provided by G4S Israel, according to a March 2011 report on the firm by Who Profits.
G4S Israel is a subsidiary of British-Danish security firm G4S and it is deeply involved in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, as well as in Israeli prisons and detention centers.
Meanwhile, G4S has lost its credibility because its incapacity to deliver on the contract to secure the London Olympics. The UK government stepped in and mobilized 3,500 military personnel to fill in the gap. Nick Bukcles, G4S’s CEO, was interrogated by members of parliament about the failure of his company. Buckles admitted that G4S’s reputation is in tatters.
DCI-Palestine documents the cases of 19 boys held solitary confinement
In its urgent appeal, DCI-Palestine has documented the cases of 19 boys who were held in solitary confinement by Israel. The boys were aged between 15 and 17 years. DCI-Palestine writes:
In most cases the children are arrested from their homes in the occupied West Bank by Israeli soldiers in the middle of the night. After being tied and blindfolded, the children are transferred to an interrogation centre inside Israel, most commonly to the Al Jalame facility, near Haifa. The children report being held in solitary confinement at these facilities for an average of 10 days. Whilst detained in these facilities, the children are questioned by ISA interrogators and are generally denied access to their parents and a lawyer. No education is provided to children at these facilities.
The children taken to Al Jalame describe being held in solitary confinement in a small cell (commonly referred to as “Cell 36”) measuring approximately 2x3 metres. The children report either sleeping on a concrete bed, on the floor, or on a thin mattress which is often described as “dirty” and “foul smelling.” Meals are passed to the children through a flap in the door, thus depriving them of human contact. The walls of these cells are reported to be grey in colour with sharp protrusions which are painful to lean against. There are no windows and the only source of illumination comes from a dim yellow light that is reported to be kept on 24 hours-a-day. Some children complain of suffering pain behind their eyes and adverse psychological effects after being detained in these cells.
It appears from the testimonies provided by the children that the dominant purpose for detaining them in these conditions is to break their spirit in order to extract a confession. Many children report being kept in solitary confinement between lengthy interrogation sessions in which prohibited techniques are frequently used, such as excessive shackling of the legs and hands, as well as position abuse, physical violence and threatening behaviour. Most children detained and questioned in these facilities end up providing a confession, which in some cases, is written in Hebrew. Once the children confess, they are prosecuted in a military court and transferred to a regular prison.
DCI-Palestine recommends to send urgent appeals to members of parliament and Israeli embassies in your country. DCI suggest to call in your appeal for an immediate end to the practice of solitary confinement of children, and that Israel should amend its laws to prohibit the practice. In addition, every detention facility, including Al Jalame, must be opened up to unbiased external inspection.