HaMoked to the HCJ: prison warder’s violence towards juvenile detainee must be reinvestigated; the investigation authorities’ conduct was flawed throughout, subverting the search for truth
Israel routinely violates
the rights of Palestinian minors who are held in the custody of Israeli security forces – the Israel Police, the Israel Security Agency (ISA), and the Israel Prison Service (IPS). Violations take place during the arrest, during interrogation and inside incarceration facilities.
As part of HaMoked’s efforts against the routine harm to Palestinian minors in custody, HaMoked pursues accountability on behalf of individual minors who suffered physical violence by security forces’ personnel. One such case concerns a 17-year-old teenager from East Jerusalem, who was struck by a prison guard on returning to the detention facility from a court hearing in April 2018 (HaMoked case 103324). As a result, the teenager’s head was bandaged for a few days. Despite his injury, the IPS continued to hold the youth in a solitary confinement cell, in complete isolation. The prison guard belonged to the IPS Nachshon Unit – tasked with accompanying and transferring inmates in IPS custody. HaMoked’s complaint on the minor’s behalf to the National Prison Wardens Investigation Unit (NPWIU), filed June 18, 2018, was closed on the grounds that “no foundation was found for the commission of criminal offenses”.
After receiving and examining the investigation materials, HaMoked filed an administrative appeal over the decision not to open a criminal investigation into the conduct of the guard. The appeal was filed first in January 2019 to the State Attorney’s Office, and again on September 9, 2019, once HaMoked was informed that the proper address is the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office. HaMoked noted that “the documentation provided is very limited in both scope and substantive content, making it impossible to substantively address any investigatory actions that were taken or neglected”. Additionally, it did not include any medical records about the injury, nor CCTV footage of the entrance to the detention facility. Thereby, contended HaMoked, “the appellant was denied the possibility to contest the warders’ claims”, which contained contradictions and unclear points. Only after repeated reminders – and over two years after the incident occurred – the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office sent a response, on July 14, 2020, that the decision to close the complaint was left unchanged.
Therefore, on September 7, 2020, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to demand renewed investigation of the case and review of the original investigation’s failures. HaMoked also demanded that a new procedure be formulated, requiring the authorities to initiate examination of incidents of violence against inmates, particularly minors, which would include a reasonable deadline for the examination, and a mechanism ensuring potentially relevant evidence would not be destroyed before it is properly considered (this, given that the CCTV footage in this case was deleted some two and a half weeks after the incident, allegedly as a matter of routine). HaMoked also demanded an explanation for the fact that the incident had not been reported or documented as stipulated in Police Ordinance “Discipline – Rules regarding Use of Reasonable Force for the Purpose of Performance of Duty”, which requires examination of such incidents even in the absence of a complaint.
It should be noted that HaMoked is still waiting to receive a pertinent response in another appeal against the closure of a complaint
over a violent incident from 2018, in which IPS Nachshon warders beat a juvenile detainee from East Jerusalem (HaMoked file 105205).