Amany Dayif & Fatmeh El-'Ajou
Israel’s detention policy of Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in particular Palestinian children and adolescents, is part of Israel’s policy of occupation.
It is a powerful instrument in the hands of the Israeli occupation for politically repressing the Palestinian population and breaking the Palestinian resistance.
Therefore, the practice of arbitrarily arresting Palestinian children and adolescents should not be viewed simply as a matter of misconduct or the violation of regulations by individual members of the security forces.
Arrests, torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (CIDT), in particular when inflicted on children, are a clear manifestation of the occupation.
Contrary to the prevailing view, physical and mental torture is not only designed to extract information from the detainees, but also to undermine their mental and physical integrity and weaken their resistance.
It is the position of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Adalah and Al-Mezan that Israel should end its arbitrary detention of Palestinian children and adolescents, and immediately put in place adequate safeguards against false and coursed confessions to protect the rights of Palestinian children during interrogations.
Safeguards should include the following: summoning children and adolescents for interview with the security forces instead of arresting them during the night; conducting interrogations with children and adolescents using only specialist interrogators trained in the interrogation of children; making audio-video recordings of interrogations of children and adolescents in their entirety; and ensuring the presence of a lawyer and a parent during interrogations of children and adolescents.
The law must ensure that no child or adolescent is convicted solely on the basis of a confession, and courts must disqualify confessions obtained children and adolescents that were obtained in violation of their rights, and/or in the absence of the aforementioned safeguards.
In addition, all complaints of the torture and/or CIDT of a child during interrogation must be the subject of an impartial, independent and effective investigation, followed by the criminal prosecution of anyone found to have perpetrated these acts.
This position paper addresses the extreme vulnerability of Palestinian children to specific conditions and practices of detention, and the illegitimate and cruel interrogation methods to which they are subjected, which result in extortion and false confessions.
It also analyzes the legal framework as it applies to Palestinian children and adolescents, who are detained by the Israeli security forces.
The paper is based mainly on a psychiatric expert opinion written by Dr.
Graciela Carmon, a psychiatrist and member of PHR-Israel’s board of directors, which was submitted to the military courts during legal proceedings in the case of a 14-year old Palestinian boy from the village of Nabi Saleh.
 Graciela Carmon, M.
, Psychiatric Expert Opinion, Coerced False Confessions: The Case of Palestinian Children, 15 May 2011.