Right to silence
The overwhelming majority of minors continue to report not being informed of their right to silence. In cases where children are informed of the right, the manner and circumstances in which the information is conveyed raises serious questions as to whether the notification is sufficient.
For example, in one case where an interrogator informed the child that he had the right to silence, a second interrogator told the child he would be raped if he did not confess. In other cases children are asked to sign a document acknowledging that they have been informed of their rights even when this is not so and in another case a child was beaten for attempting to exercise his right to silence. MCW continues to document multiple cases where children are subjected to double interrogations in which they are only informed of their rights during the second interrogation.
International juvenile justice standards provide that every child has the right to remain silent and any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure to force the minor to confess is a violation of this right. In February 2013, UNICEF recommended that all minors and their legal guardian or close family member should be provided with a written statement in Arabic informing them of their full legal rights while in custody. Further, at the commencement of each interrogation session, the minor should be formally notified of his or her rights in Arabic, and in particular, informed of the privilege against self-incrimination.
In response to UNICEF’s recommendations, the Military Prosecutor has stated that in December 2013, the Israeli police started using a revised Arabic text to notify children arrested for alleged security offenses of their rights, including the right to silence and the right to legal counsel. This revised text was endorsed by the Ministry of Justice. The Military Prosecutor advised that the revised Arabic text for the notification of rights is designed to more clearly inform children, but that the Israeli police complied with this principle before.
The evidence indicates that no minors are being informed of their legal rights at the time of arrest. Further, only a small proportion of minors are being informed of their rights once they arrive at an interrogation centre and in many of these cases the information provided is wholly inadequate.
It is recommended that in order to ensure compliance with this legal requirement proceedings against minors should be dismissed whenever the prosecution is unable to prove timely and satisfactory notification.