HaMoked to the military: minors should not be pulled out of their beds at night in order to be interrogated; the default should be to summon them to interrogation at the police station
As part of its long-standing efforts to put a stop to Israeli security forces’ systematic violation of Palestinian minors’ rights, HaMoked has been corresponding with the military about the unacceptable and widespread phenomenon of nighttime arrests of minors in the West Bank. These nighttime arrests are often violent and invariably traumatic for all the family members on the scene. Despite that, the military persists in this practice and refused to implement on a wide scale the alternative course of summoning minors to interrogation at police stations, carried out as a pilot program since 2014.
On April 5, 2020, the military sent a response to HaMoked on this issue, saying, among other things that “in most cases in which minors are arrested in the Area [i.e. the West Bank], these are either minors ages 16-18 or those suspected of serious offences”, who cannot be summoned to interrogation in the framework of the “pilot program”. This, the military explained, due to the fact that “they do not meet the criteria established in the pilot program”, which include, “the severity of the offence of which the minor is suspected, the minor’s criminal record, special interrogation needs and more”. As before, data on the implementation of the pilot program were not provided, despite HaMoked’s repeated requests to receive them.
In its response of May 18, 2020, HaMoked criticized the criteria of the minor’s age and the severity of the allegation, which are used as exclusions from summons to interrogation. “A minor is a minor, and as such their rights must be upheld, even if you consider them to have committed a serious offence” – this, given that the severity of the offence is only relevant to the criminal proceedings and irrelevant to the manner of arrest, which should not be punitive in nature. Moreover, “one cannot accept the premise that a 16-year-old minor is considered as an adult for the purpose of the detention process; it cannot be that a 16 year-old would be taken from their bed late at night, cuffed and bound in front of their family and taken to an unknown location” – especially when dealing with minors living under occupation.
HaMoked reiterated its principled position – based on international law, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child – that “summoning minors to interrogation should be the default in the detention of minors, and not a sort of tiny experiment alongside the practice of night raids to homes”.