Israeli authorities routinely detain Palestinian children in isolation solely for interrogation purposes, a practice that amounts to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, Defense for Children International – Palestine said in a report released today.
The 73-page report, “Isolated and Alone: Palestinian children held in solitary confinement by Israeli authorities for interrogation,” evaluates and details patterns of arrest, detention conditions, and interrogation practices by Israeli authorities. The report concludes that the physical and social isolation of Palestinian children for interrogation purposes by Israeli authorities is a practice that constitutes solitary confinement, amounting to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment under international law norms.
Over a four-year period, between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2019, Defense for Children DCIP documented 108 cases where Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military were held in isolation for two or more days during the interrogation period.
Evidence and documentation collected by DCIP overwhelmingly indicate that the isolation of Palestinian children within the Israeli military detention system is practiced solely to obtain a confession for a specific offense or to gather intelligence under interrogation. DCIP has found no evidence demonstrating a legally justifiable use of isolation of Palestinian child detainees, such as for disciplinary, protective, or medical reasons. Solitary confinement has been used, almost exclusively, during pre-charge and pretrial detention. The practice is not generally employed after children have been convicted and are serving their sentences.
“International law prohibits the use of solitary confinement and similar measures constituting cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment against children, and yet Israeli authorities frequently detain children in this manner,“ said Khaled Quzmar, General Director of DCIP. “It is widely acknowledged that this practice causes both immediate and long-term psychological harm to children. It must end immediately, and the prohibition must be enshrined in law.”
Isolation of Palestinian child detainees typically follows a military arrest and transfer period, during which many children are subjected to physical violence and other forms of ill-treatment. While in isolation, child detainees are without meaningful human contact, as interactions with others are often solely with their interrogator. Meals are passed to children through a flap in the door.