[29 August 2012] – On 1 August, Military Order 1685 came into effect. The new order reduces the time within which children detained by the Israeli military must be brought before a military court judge for the first time. The order shortens the time from eight to four days. This amendment applies to adults and children as young as 12 years. The amendment does not automatically apply in cases where a person is being interrogated by the Israeli Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet).
Some key points to note regarding these changes are as follows:
- Military Order 1685 has not been translated into Arabic as is required under Article 65 of theFourth Geneva Convention, and accordingly has no legal effect. Previous military orders relating to the establishment of a military juvenile court (2009) and the age of majority (2011) have yet to be translated into Arabic.
- No explanation has been given as to why more favourable time limits apply to Israeli children, including children living in settlements in the West Bank. Under the law that is applied to Israeli children, a child below the age of 14 must be brought before a civilian judge within 12 hours of arrest, rising to 24 hours in the case of older children. Under international law, no state is entitled to discriminate between those over whom it exercises penal jurisdiction on the basis of their race of nationality.
- The critical period for children detained under Israeli military law is during the first 48 hours after arrest. It is during this period that most cases of abuse are documented and the child is interrogated without the benefit of legal advice or the presence of a parent – rights Israeli children enjoy. The amendment which now requires children be brought before a military court judge within 96 hours of arrest adds no additional protection.
DCI-Palestine continues to recommend that:
- The Israeli government desists from applying discriminatory legal systems to children based on race or nationality.
- On arrival at a place of detention, children should be immediately reminded of their right to silence. Their right to consult a lawyer prior to interrogation should be respected.
- Children should have a parent or guardian present prior to and during their interrogation.
- Interrogations should be audio-visually recorded and the tapes should be made available to the child’s lawyer.
- Breach of these recommendations should result in the discontinuation of the prosecution and the child’s release.
- Children in Military Custody - Report by a group of prominent British lawyers (June 2012)
- DCI-Palestine - Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted (April 2012)
- B’Tselem – No Minor Matter (July 2011)