US State Department's Human Rights Report for 2014
[26 June 2015] - The US State Department recently published its annual global report on human rights for 2014. As in previous years, the report identifies arbitrary arrest and associated torture and abuse as one of the three most significant human rights abuses in Israel and Palestine.
In the report the State Department notes that Israeli authorities continue to apply two distinct legal systems in the West Bank, one military and one civilian, depending on whether the individual is Palestinian or an Israeli settler. For Palestinians prosecuted in the military court system, the State Department notes that the conviction rate remains above 99 percent.
The report considers in detail the treatment of children detained by the Israeli military in the West Bank and noted that:
- Reports continue to be received alleging abuse, and in some cases torture, of children accused of throwing stones in order to illicit confessions. The abuse includes: beatings, long-term handcuffing, threats, intimidation and solitary confinement;
- Children frequently only have access to a lawyer once they appear in a military court and not prior to interrogation;
- The time limits for Palestinian children to be brought before a judge under military law are twice as long as those provided under civilian law for Israeli children living in the settlements; and
- Claims continue to be made that Palestinian children sign documentation written in Hebrew at the conclusion of their interrogation.
The State Department also referred to the UNICEF report – Children in Israeli Military Detention
– which stated that “mistreatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic, and institutionalized.” Following the publication of this report Israel’s chief military prosecutor in the West Bank established a dialogue with UNICEF to for the stated reason of improving the treatment of children. However, UNICEF
warned in February 2015, that “reports of alleged ill-treatment have not significantly decreased in 2013 and 2014”.
The State Department also notes that despite 776 complaints filed since 1999 against Israeli Security Agency interrogators, not one torture complaint resulted in a criminal investigation, let alone a prosecution or conviction. This evidence was cited in support of the claim that there was a systematic failure to investigate abuse claims.