Rights group: 13 Palestinian children in administrative detention

Palestinian minors held by Israel in administrative detention (B’Tselem)

According to B’Tselem’s figures, on 31 August 2008, Israel was holding 13 Palestinian minors, two of them girls, in prolonged administrative detention in Israel, in breach of law. At the end of June 2008, 730 Palestinians were being held in administrative detention in Israel.

The two girls, Salwa Salah and Sarra Sirwah, both 17 years old, were detained on 5 June 2008 in the middle of the night and are being held in Damon Prison together with adult female prisoners. The detention orders against them were issued for four months, but can be extended an indefinite number of times for up to six months each time.

Administrative detention is carried out solely on the basis of an administrative order, without a judicial determination, without an indictment being filed, and without a trial. Given that administrative detention infringes the right to freedom and due process, and in light of the clear danger of abuse, international law imposes rigid limitations in its use.

Over the years, Israel has detained Palestinians for long periods of time without bringing them to court or even telling them of the suspicions against them. When detainees appeal their detention, neither they nor their attorneys are allowed to see the allegedly incriminating evidence. By acting in this way, Israel shows utter disregard for defenses available to suspects in Israeli and international law, which are intended to ensure the right to liberty and due process, the right of persons to state their case, and the presumption of innocence.

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in administrative detention of minors in Israel, an especially grave phenomenon. The International Convention on the Rights of the Child states, in article 37, states that, “No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.”

The government of Israel must release all administrative detainees and cease using this unlawful, sweeping practice. If there is sufficient evident to prosecute a person being held in administrative detention, then an indictment should be filed and a trial held.

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