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US State Department Human Rights Report (2015)

[15 April 2016] – On 14 April the US State Department released its annual global report on human rights for 2015. The report includes sections on Israel/Palestine and as in previous years, the State Department has considered the treatment of minors detained by the Israeli military and prosecuted in military courts.

After referring to UNICEF's 2013 report - Children in Israeli Military Detention - and the UN agency's finding that the "mistreatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic, and institutionalized,” the State Department noted that reports of mistreatment continued in 2015. These reports included:
 
·      90 per cent of minors reported being hand-tied;
·      81 per cent of minors reported being blindfolded;
·      61 per cent of minors reported being subjected to physical abuse; and
·      96 per cent of minors reported being denied access to a lawyer prior to questioning.
 
For the first time the State Department also referred to reports that Israeli forces were conducting night raids in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in a "widespread and systematic manner" and noted that they almost universally led to "a sense of fear and terror" among residents, especially children.
 
As in previous years, the State Department noted 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 noted that the conviction rate remains above 99 per cent.
 
The State Department noted that the military authorities continued to use confessions signed by Palestinian minors, written in Hebrew, a language most could not read, as evidence against them in military courts and that these confessions were reportedly frequently coerced.
 
Finally, the State Department noted that Israeli authorities "frequently transferred detainees from the West Bank to Israel for detention and interrogation." It should be noted that the transfer and detention of Palestinian detainees from the West Bank is classified as a war crime under Articles 76 and 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which both Israel and the US are State parties. These transfers currently affect more than 7,000 men, women and children each year under an Israeli government policy established in 1967.
 
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