Human rights organizations challenge the Penal Law amendment that denies social security benefits to parents of children convicted of security offences: this is discriminatory legislation against juvenile Palestinians and their parents which hampers the children's chances of the rehabilitation המוקד להגנת הפרט
21.04.2016
Human rights organizations challenge the Penal Law amendment that denies social security benefits to parents of children convicted of security offences: this is discriminatory legislation against juvenile Palestinians and their parents which hampers the children's chances of the rehabilitation
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On April 21, 2016, Adalah, HaMoked and two other human rights organizations petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to revoke Section 3 of the Penal Law (Amendment No. 120 and Temporary Order), 5776-2015, which denies payment of social security benefits to parents of minors convicted of security offences. This is one of two recent additions to the Penal Law, approved by the Knesset on November 2, 2015; the other addition establishes minimum penalty for the offence of stone throwing.

In the petition, the organizations challenged the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Penal Law, primarily for being discriminatory against Palestinian juvenile prisoners, who constitute the vast majority of juvenile prisoners convicted of security offences in Israel. Thus, according to data received by Adalah from the state on January 31, 2016, of the 437 minors incarcerated at that time for security offences in Israel – 431 were Palestinians.

The Section stipulates, in effect, that the parent of a minor who has been convicted and imprisoned for a security offence, will be denied all National Insurance Institute payments for that child, including child allowance and subsistence payments such as maintenance and income support, during the child’s imprisonment. The petitioners stressed that this was an unacceptable and unconstitutional use of social security benefits as a punitive measure. Moreover, the Section establishes an arbitrary and extraneous distinction between convicted minors – those convicted of security offences and those convicted of criminal offences, regardless of severity. And therefore it causes severe and wrongful discrimination based on national identity.

The organizations also argued that using social security benefits as punishment is blatantly unbalanced and that the harm it causes outweighs the advantage.
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