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Supreme Court hears petition seeking social welfare reports at remand hearings in the military courts

[5 April 2018] – On 7 March 2018, Israel’s Supreme Court handed down a decision in a petition seeking an order requiring the production of social welfare reports at every remand hearing involving a child in the military courts in the West Bank. (Anonymous and ors v Commander of IDF Forces in Judea and Samaria and ors (Case 1845/17)).  

The petition sought to address a fundamental shortcoming in the military courts whereby the overwhelming majority of Palestinian children continue to be denied bail and are held in custody on remand pending the conclusion of legal proceedings. While there is no provision under Israeli military law for the production of social welfare reports relating to Palestinian children at remand hearings, Israel’s civilian juvenile justice system mandates the production of such reports in every case, including those involving Israeli children living in settlements in the West Bank.
In its decision, the Supreme Court noted that the military authorities (Respondents) have drafted an amendment to the military law granting a discretion to the military courts to order the production of a social welfare report at a remand hearing in the case of a minor. The Petitioners have not been provided with a copy of the draft law and no date has yet been set for its introduction.
In the circumstances the Court dismissed the petition but noted that the Petitioners reserve their rights in relation to the proposed amendment to the military law. Although Arabic is an official language of the State of Israel, the decision was only officially published in Hebrew.