Children in Cages
By Stephen Lendman
Israel willfully, systematically, maliciously and lawlessly abuses detained Palestinian children. They're treated like adult prisoners.
Mercy isn't Israel's long suit. Nor are peace, equity, justice or respect for fundamental human and civil rights.
Israel spurns them repeatedly. It's standard practice. It remains unaccountable for grave crimes against humanity.
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) calls torture and ill treatment of any kind morally, ethically and legally incompatible with democratic values.
PCATI "advocates for all persons - Israelis, Palestinians, labor immigrants, and other(s)." It does so to "protect them from torture and ill treatment by" Israeli interrogation and enforcement authorities.
It does it in accordance with rule of law principles and other democratic values. It challenges longstanding lawless Israeli practices.
Torture is official Israeli policy. The UN Convention against Torture defines it as:
"any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain and suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity..."
Fourth Geneva's Article 27 states:
Protected persons "shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof..."
Its Articles 31 and 32 state:
"No physical or moral coercion shall be exercised against protected persons."
"This prohibition applies to...torture (and) to any other measures of brutality whether applied by civilian or military agents."
Its Article 147 calls "willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment...grave breaches" under the Convention and are considered "war crimes."
Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 7 states:
"No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
Other international law statutes call torture a high crime against humanity. It's prohibited at all times, under all circumstances, with no allowed exceptions.
Israel operates extrajudicially. Crimes against humanity occur daily. Palestinians face torture and other forms of abuse. Children are treated like adults.
Principle 1 of the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child says:
"Every child, without exception whatsoever, shall be entitled to (fundamental human and civil) rights, without distinction or discrimination on account of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, whether of himself or of his family."
They're entitled to special protections and opportunities. It's to help them develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually, and socially. It's so they'll do it under conditions of freedom and dignity.
They include the right to life, an adequate standard of living, healthcare, education, leisure, safety and peace. Israel systematically denies Palestinians all rights. Children are no exception.
Imagine putting them in cages. Imagine them outside in stormy winter weather. Israel did so in December.
Two Israeli National Public Defender lawyers witnessed it firsthand. They met with Palestinian prisoners. They included young children.
They were "shock(ed)" to see them confined outdoors at night in freezing stormy weather. They spent hours waiting to be taken to court around 6AM.
The practice has been ongoing "for months," they said. They verified it during previous visits.
They issued an emergency appeal "to prevent another night of such grave harm to humanity."
They were especially appalled at how young children are treated.
PCATI issued a lengthy statement. It headline "Childhood is not a Privilege but a Right!" It expressed "alarm and condemnation."
It accused Israel of "failure to protect Palestinian children from direct and indirect torture and ill treatment." It said "Torture Destroys Childhood, Families (and) Society."
Israel's Knesset Public Petitions Committee members discussed how security forces treat Palestinian children during arrests and imprisonment.
According to the Istanbul Protocol Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the Istanbul Protocol):
"Perpetrators (of torture) often attempt to justify their acts of torture and ill-treatment by the need to gather information."
"One of the central aims of torture is to reduce an individual to a position of extreme helplessness and distress."
Torture "attack(s) an individualís fundamental modes of psychological and social functioning."
"The torturer attempts to destroy a victimís sense of being grounded in a family and society as a human being with dreams, hopes and aspirations for the future."
"In addition, torture can profoundly damage intimate relationships between spouses, parents, children, other family members and relationships between the victims and their communities."
Torture especially harms children. The effect on their well-being is devastating. It's traumatizing. It's long-lasting. It affects their development. Many children are scarred for life.
It causes profound personality changes. It creates anti-social behavior. PCATI gets scores of complaints. It's actively working on cases involving children.
It's gravely concerned about clear evidence. Other NGOs and human rights groups documented Israeli torture and abuse. They did so in cases involving children.
PACTI said "fail(ing) to allow the arrested child or minor to full enjoyment of his or her rights, including the failure to allow for an attorney or accompanying adult at the time of arrest and interrogation places the child in a state of helplessness, distress and increases the pressure being applied to the child by the security forces in order to achieve a confession or information during the interrogation."
The threshold for what's considered torture must be lowered in cases involving children, it said. They have the right to rehabilitation. So do adults.
They have the right to have their complaints fully examined, including by competent independent forensic experts. They have the right to testify in their own behalf.
Defense for Children International-Palestine and Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights said the following:
"Israel is the only nation to automatically and systematically prosecute children in military courts that lack basic and fundamental fair trial guarantees."
"Around 500-700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12 years old, are arrested, detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military detention system each year."
"The majority of Palestinian child detainees are charged with throwing stones, and 74 percent experience physical violence during arrest, transfer or interrogation, according to evidence collected by Defence for Children International Palestine."
"No Israeli children come into contact with the military court system."
PCATI stressed its position against torture and ill treatment of all kinds. It called on Knesset Public Petitions Committee members to address it responsibly.
It expressed especial concern for abused children. It wants international law enforced. It wants longstanding Israeli torture and ill treatment stopped.
Previous efforts to do so failed. Israel's Knesset is its most hardline ever. Anti-Palestinian fascists infest it. Expect business as usual to continue. Expect nothing substantive to change.
Expect efforts to relieve Palestinian suffering to get short shrift. Expect the worst of Israeli abuses to continue. Nothing suggests otherwise.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
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